Ongoing Study Highlight
Research & Development of Soil Sampling Tools

Research & Development of Soil Sampling Tools

Project Lead: Kristofer Covey

Summary: Assessing soil carbon at the farm scale can be expensive and time-consuming. A particularly pressing, yet under-researched challenge, is the need for innovative field hardware that enables untrained users to quickly collect soil from fixed depths. Because they provide greater efficiency and ease of use in the field, new tools could provide significant cost savings over existing methodologies. We tested an auger-based field sampling tool developed and tested at Caney Fork Farms by The Covey Lab at Skidmore College for TSIP.

The results of the study are presented in our paper, “Rapid soil harvesting using a novel soil auger system for farm-scale soil carbon estimates.”

Our results show that the difference in soil carbon estimates between the two methods is less than the difference in local soil carbon concentrations. Our analysis of sampling effort indicates that using the TSIP Soil Extractor can reduce sampling times by more than 50% without compromising soil carbon estimates. The findings have important implications for researchers and practitioners interested in assessing soil carbon stocks and promoting climate-smart agriculture. In short, this new soil sampling hardware saves time and effort without sacrificing data quality. 

Lowering inventory costs is a critical step in demonstrating the feasibility of soil carbon sequestration as a component of climate-smart agriculture. New field tools like the TSIP Soil Extractor are addressing this pressing need by making low-cost sampling tools widely available. Future research into developing novel field hardware at Caney Fork Farms is directed at exploring new ways to gather the larger intact near-surface soil cores required for expansive soil health analysis.  The Extractor is one component of the TSIP sampling system we’ve used to assess carbon sequestration and storage at Caney Fork Farms since 2019. This robust mobile application supported system is suitable for use by producers, researchers, and consultants interested in better understanding the distribution of carbon in agricultural soils.