Soil sampler of the future is here
CROPSEY – An automatic soil sampler is making the job easier for an Indiana-based company.
AgNext was formed to solve challenges in agricultural soil sampling. The company utilizes an unmanned vehicle which goes out to the field to collect soil samples utilizing depth and location.
“We had to start eliminating as many variables as we could in our data,” explained AgNext CEO Troy Fiechter during a recent demonstration at GMS Labs near Cropsey. “As we looked at soil tests year over year, we wanted consistency to see how our soils were changing and the depth that was being taken.”
Fiechter is part of a large commercial farming operation in eastern Indiana and has experienced sampling challenges in the past but has learned from those issues. Fiechter’s business partner, Drew Schumacher, is an engineer but did not grow up on the farm, providing a fresh perspective on issues which may arise.
The vehicle used by AgNext is basically a skid steer with no cab that includes a packaging machine, auger bit to ensure perfect soil extraction and a cleaning collar to prevent cross contamination.
“It actually goes through the field about 12 miles per hour since it is a high-speed skid steer and uses all hydraulics to actually perform the job,” Fiechter noted.
AgNext provides this all as a service – they are not selling the machine, since no one sells autonomous vehicles just yet. There is a small upcharge involved as AgNext typically works with individuals who already have a relationship with a fertilizer dealer. The company can also provide recommendations.
“We know our biggest competition is actually change and we know it’s hard to change programs. We are small and adaptable and are willing to insert ourselves into that process however needed.”
Fiechter acknowledges a good relationship between his company and GMS Labs, believing in their soil testing protocol. More information can be obtained by contacting Herb or Georgia Steffen at GMS or by visiting: www.agnext.com.