LENEXA, Kan. -- Understanding field-level soil variability is critically important in vineyards, orchards, turf grass and other crops. However, the use of conventional survey techniques has rarely provided the depth and quality of information needed to enhance the design of a new planting or troubleshoot fertility problems in existing plots and acreages.

John Deere Agri Services now offers the Soil Information System (SIS) to help producers describe soil variability at higher levels of resolution, previously unavailable in the marketplace. Armed with this information, producers will be able to undertake soil management practices that enhance design and productivity.

"Traditionally, the major challenge has been to accurately and objectively quantify the spatial variability of multiple relevant soil properties at a high level of resolution," says Rick Wesch, account manager, John Deere Agri Services. "The Soil Information System overcomes that challenge by combining a suite of sensors with global positioning systems (GPS) to create a high-resolution, three-dimensional map detailing physical and chemical soil variability at a sub-inch level of accuracy."

Data collection is undertaken in three phases with each tier of data increasing soil-variability knowledge. The centerpiece of this technological advancement is a penetrometer that describes texture, moisture, compaction (clay pans and sand lenses), color, and electrical resistivity. Coupled with geo-referenced coring, both physical and chemical soil variability comes to life.

"The value, however, is not in the data alone. The value lies in our ability to take the data and extrapolate it into maps of critical importance for growers, managers, and consultants," Wesch says. "While a traditional sampling scheme might use 10 backhoe pits to describe a 200-acre parcel, the Soil Information System will take up to 100 observations over that same 200 acres without digging a pit.

"And since GPS ties data to the exact location where each analysis was made, site specific management is brought to an entirely new level of accuracy. When the information is reviewed by agronomists or crop consultants, recommendations can be made that will noticeably improve current agronomic practices."

The Soil Information System is a service provided by John Deere to help producers and developers reduce costs, improve crop yields, and gain greater returns for their business. This service will be offered by crop consultants, ag retailers, and agronomists.

John Deere is the world's leading manufacturer of agricultural and forestry equipment; a leading supplier of equipment used in lawn, grounds and turf care; and a major manufacturer of construction equipment. Additionally, John Deere manufactures engines used in heavy equipment and provides financial services and other related activities that support the core businesses. Since it was founded in 1837, the company has established a heritage of quality products and services providing performance that endures to customers worldwide.

SOURCE: John Deere news release.