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Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development




A range of methods, technologies and equipment are used to collect representative composite soil samples from paddocks. Once collected, soil samples are analysed for various parameters that provide evidence to guide fertiliser decisions. The sampling methods, technologies and equipment used must result in samples that consistently represent the parameter of interest.

Soil sampling technology and equipment has advanced from manual devices (such as pogo-stick-style foot-thrust core samplers [pogo]) to a variety of mechanised core-thrust samplers and augers that are fitted to vehicles or battery drills. Each device may function differently under different conditions, and each requires differing levels of human intervention to comply with agreed approaches to soil sampling. There has been minimal comparative testing of sampling equipment to determine the rigour of the various sampling tools and their effect on common soil test parameters. This study addresses this lack of comparative testing by using systematic, replicated soil sampling on 3 soil types each month for 12 months in soils with permanent pasture. A variety of equipment was assessed – all-terrain vehicle with hydraulic auger; rough-terrain vehicle (RTV) with vacuum-assisted hydraulic core sampler; RTV with hydraulic core sampler; four-wheel-drive utility vehicle-mounted compressor-driven auger; battery-drill-driven auger; battery-drill-driven universal ground probe; manual pogo used by an operator who weighed 65 kg; and manual pogo used by an operator who weighed 90 kg. Sampling over 12 months examined if systematic variations exist between different sampling techniques and under what conditions. Field and reference samples were analysed for Colwell P (phosphorus) and K (potassium), KCl-40S (sulfur), pH(CaCl2 [calcium chloride] and H2O [water]), phosphorus buffering index (PBI), phosphorus retention index (PRI) and electrical conductivity (EC).

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soil sampling, equipment, soil analytes, fertiliser decisions, south-west Western Australia


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