Get the most out of your fall windows of opportunity.
Even though we are seeing an annual increase in Early In Crop sampling acres, soil sampling is still a fall dominated activity in many circles. The harvest season of 2018 was a good example of just how quickly your window of opportunity can shrink in the fall due to circumstances out of your control. Multiple extended rainfall events across a large portion of the country caused a chain of disruptions in every sector of agriculture, and the effects of that are being felt well into the next crop year.
Many people we have spoken with this winter are expecting to have a much higher than usual number of fields they have to apply this spring because they couldn't get in to complete their usual fall applications. How much additional equipment and manpower is it going to take to make up for lost days? You can't control things like the weather, but there is something you can do to minimize the impact they can have on your fall applications.
Early In Crop sampling from SoilView can help maximize your time efficiency in the fall.
There are a number of steps that need to occur before you can make a recommendation and apply fertilizer on a customer's field. In a typical fall it can take anywhere from 23-41 days¹ to get from harvest to application - that estimate may seem high at first but take a look at how those numbers break down:
- 4-7 days to connect with your grower once harvest is completed
During harvest your busy growers don't always communicate with you as each field is finished. They can be harvested for several days - even weeks - before you are aware they are ready to be sampled.
- 4-7 days to order and complete soil sampling
Increased workload during fall can create a delay getting soil sampling orders placed, and the large volume of acres affects the turnaround time for soil samplers as well.
- 4-7 days for Lab to receive and process samples
Fall sample volume can increase the time it takes to get soil logged in, analyzed, and transmitted back to you.
- 3-6 days to prepare fertility recommendations
Once lab analysis is in your hands you need time to prepare fertility plans. The time demands of your other fall responsibilities can create a back-log in creating your recommendations.
- 4-7 days to connect with your grower to approve and finalize plans
A good plan requires you to meet with your grower to discuss soil test results and the fertility prescription you have prepared to make an application decision. It can easily take a few days to coordinate your schedules to review this critical step.
- 4-7 days lost due to bad weather
Weather can be the big unknown factor in fall - disrupting harvest, soil sampling, fertilizer applications, and your growers' post-harvest field work. Growers rushing tillage or cover crop planting to beat bad weather can also put an additional strain on you, your equipment, and your people.
What would an extra 23-41 days of fall application do for your fleet and operator’s efficiency?
An extra 30 days could replace 1 floater!
It is easy to see how your fall windows of opportunity can be affected by even the smallest disruption. Early In Crop sampling (EIC) can shift the time spent on most of these steps away from the busy fall season putting you in better control of your scheduling and response time. By having your soil sampling already completed, lab analysis done, fertility recommendations made, and final plans set with your growers before harvest even occurs you can save weeks off your fall timeline! In addition to the time savings you can come into fall better prepared for your personnel, equipment, and inventory needs for applications.
The best way to start taking advantage of Early In Crop sampling is by identifying a few of your growers who would most benefit from having more time in fall and sign up their sampling today. EIC won't be the ideal solution for every grower, but if you have customers who are always difficult to coordinate with during harvest, or some who are always impatient to immediately get their applications completed to start tillage or other post-harvest field work, they could be great candidates to move to EIC sampling.
Choose some of your current customers who have fields due for resampling this year and schedule them to be sampled this summer to see how well it works for yourself. Once you see how much quality time you gain we know you’ll be excited to switch more acres to SoilView’s EIC sampling program.
¹Based on a survey of major Midwest fertilizer companies applying fall fertilizer.