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How to Use ATVs to Increase Scouting and Soil Sampling Efficiency

Apr 23, 2020

Scouting and soil sampling are critical activities any year, but this year could prove especially profitable. Use soil sampling and scouting to know what deficiencies could afflict plants, what weeds or diseases are present and what additional yield-limiting factors plague your fields.

But, scouting and soil sampling take time—especially walking large fields. Do you have the manpower to cater needs to every field?

“When I started soil sampling 38 years ago, I was walking and carrying a 5-gallon bucket with a clipboard and a hand-drawn map and soil probe to walk fields,” says Phil Cochran, owner of Cochran Agronomics, Inc., Paris, Ill. “Now we run two ATVs full-time from now through the end of June. With our volume it would be impossible to get everything done.”

To get across the same number of acres, Cochran says it would take up to 20 people, instead of the two part-timers he has running soil samples today. In addition, ATVs are the fastest piece of equipment he can safely use to get across fields to pull soil samples.

"Compared to a truck, another great thing about our vehicles is they’re built for off-road conditions and you don’t have to worry about getting them dirty – or stuck," adds Scott Newby, Yamaha ATV and side-by-side senior communications specialist.

Pack the right gear

Your scouting is only as effective as the tools you use. Here are tips on what you’ll need to include in your ATV scouting pack—including soil sampling equipment:

  • 5-gallon bucket or other storage container for soil samples
  • Soil probe
  • Mapping technology to pinpoint soil sample or problem in field
  • iPad to view imagery or points in field
  • Gloves, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and other personal protective equipment
  • Tape measure
  • Plastic bags to store leaf samples

It might be a good idea to strap or attach some kind of storage box to the front or back of the ATV to keep gear organized and prevent it from falling off.

Every bushel counts—especially in years where they aren’t bringing high dollars. Maximize your scouting ability by getting through fields faster and more efficiently.

Be a Safety-Minded Driver

With any fast-moving piece of equipment, you need to be safe to avoid injury. Slow down, be smart and stay healthy.

"Wearing helmets, boots, gloves and other riding gear at all times is a must, as well as seat belts in side-by-sides while driving and riding," says Scott Newby, Yamaha ATV and side-by-side senior communications specialist.

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