Funded by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the aim of this ELMS Test and Trial project is to field test three different soil scanners to understand if they can produce replicable and consistent results against a baseline of traditional methods of soil assessment.
At least two fields on each of the 15 trial farms — located from West Penwith to the Devon/Cornwall border — will be scanned by each of the three types of scanners:
Soil Scanning: A useful tool
Over the last two years, SWFC has been reviewing the potential for the use of soil scanning with our clients as a tool for measuring and monitoring soil properties. Soil scanning offers the potential for assessment of soil characteristics across a field with far more detail than can be expected from traditional soil testing — and in a much shorter time. Soil scans can be used to better target inputs such as fertiliser, FYM and lime and therefore offer opportunities for farms to become more efficient, to reduce their environmental footprint and save costs. (Find out more about our new soil scanning service here.)
As well as providing a comparison of the output from the different scanning machines, this project will allow us to understand how these machines perform practically on different terrain and ground cover found on farms in the Southwest. All the fields to be scanned are part of the wider Soil Carbon Project and have been subject to detailed soil sampling carried out by hand, so there is data to compare with the scanner outcomes.
Agrovista Veris U3
Last week, Agrovista brought their Veris U3 scanner (in action below) to Cornwall and completed the first round of scans. The scanner was towed on the back of a pick-up and could cover the ground at up to 16km/h.
This scanner has electroconductivity discs that create a circuit in the soil from one end of the machine to the other to take the scanner readings. Additionally, an organic matter (OM) sensor uses soil brightness to detect the OM levels in the soil. The shallow furrow that can be seen in the video is created by this sensor.
Many thanks to Rich Dulake from Agrovista for all his hard work in getting this first round of scanning completed.