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Soil Sampling – Expect the Unexpected

by Nov 22, 2010Ag Leader

I have a new recommendation that you won’t find at any university.

If you are a regular follower of some of the blog postings over the last few months, you know that I have provided some tips to make the soil sampling process go smoothly, as well as tips to collect the “best” soil test for measuring the fertility of your farm.

Well, last weekend was the time to put my thoughts into action as I sampled the farms that my dad and I operate.  I had everything on the checklist taken care of: the soil points pre-determined, the sample bags pre-labeled, the hand-held charged and the 4-wheeler full of fuel.  I got a good start and was sampling by 4-wheeler headlights at 6:45; however, sometimes all the planning in the world can still encounter a glitch.

On one of the last samples for the first field, I got off the 4-wheeler like I had done for all the other samples. As I was getting ready to take the first step, I caught my foot on a corn stalk, rolled my ankle and I heard (and felt) a “pop.” The next thing I knew I was on the ground clutching my ankle.   I stumbled to the 4-wheeler, dug out my cell phone and called my local medic (side note: I’m blessed to have two family members that are trained medical professionals. My wife is a Physical Therapist and Athletic Trainer who has seen and treated dozens of sprains, broken ankles and joint replacements.  My mom, who is a Registered Nurse, is extremely helpful in triaging which injuries require emergency room assessment and which are less critical.)

So who would you call?  That’s what I thought too, so I asked my mom, “What does a broken ankle feel like?”  She replied, “Well, it hurts… what did you do?” After I explained the situation she said she’d meet me by the field and take a look at it, but since I was able to walk, she said it probably wasn’t broken.  Being a true farmer, I took the last two samples for the field I was in and by the time she got there I must have “walked it off” because I was walking pretty well.  We determined that we’d see what it looked like by that evening and decide then if I need to see the doc.  So I proceeded to take another 140 acres of soil samples and then disc chisel until about 9:00 that night.  It was starting to swell up after sitting in the tractor but wasn’t too bad, all things considered.

Instant Cold Compress (<a href=” class=”size-full wp-image-3788 ” height=”240″ src=”/images/uploads/blog/coldcompress2.jpg” title=”coldcompress” width=”232″ />


For those who are wondering why I didn’t call my wife from the field, she was 150 miles away at the time, and I figured that if I needed a ride to the doc, Mom was probably able to get me there a bit quicker.  It had nothing to do with me not wanting to hear her say, “Now what did you do?”  (Incidentally this wasn’t my first farm related injury this harvest season.)

I felt that the farming activities I continued with after I sprained my ankle that day were probably very therapeutic.  However, my wife – who actually has a degree in a health care field – has a different opinion.  Luckily my ankle is healing very well, but I think I’m going to purchase stock in ibuprofen, ice packs and ACE wraps, as that is now a part of my daily routine.

In light of my sampling experience, I’d like to add a few items for the checklist before going to the field, as you never know what unexpected problems may arise.

  • Cell phone with a good charge
  • A simple, well stocked first aid kit in every vehicle, including an instant ice pack
  • The foresight to look where you step

Hopefully everyone had a safe harvest this year, and the last few jobs for the season go smoothly!