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Robotic Sampler Offers Business Opportunity
AutoProbe robotic soil sampler lets you grab 40 soil cores in 40 to 45 sec. as you drive across the field. It always probes to the same depth and records the path sampled as it goes, promising uniformity and repeatability. Jeff Burton says those factors are vital to accurate soil sampling.
  “AutoProbe was developed by a farmer for farmers,” says Burton, AgRobotics, noting that it could be used to launch a soil sampling business. “It is leaps and bounds above hand sampling.”
  His father Jim, an Arkansas farmer and an engineer by training, developed the technology. He wasn’t satisfied with the quality or the labor costs involved in intensive soil sampling. With precision agriculture, taking a handful of cores per field or even per 2 1/2 acres wasn’t good enough. He wanted more samples, and that required a faster way to gather. The AutoProbe does that and more.
  “We gather a core every 8 1/2 ft. for 40 cores per 2 1/2-acre density,” says Burton. “We have gathered 1,200 cores across a 70-acre field in 39 min.”
  The AutoProbe is a tracked implement with probes built into the tracks. As it moves across the field, the probes penetrate and remove samples that are sent by auger to a hose and then to a bagging unit in the tractor cab.
  “When the bags are full, the operator seals, tabs and replaces them,” says Burton. “Eventually that will also be done automatically.”
  At first the soil would plug up in the air tube. The solution was to use a heat exchanger with hydraulic oil running through it at the air intake for the blower. The compressor adds heat as well producing 150-degree air to move the soil to the bagger. As the soil moves through the airlock, it is chopped and dried.
  Initially the company leased machines, but with recent improvements in the technology, the cost of building them has fallen. Burton suggests that the price now opens the door to farmers, crop consultants and others offering the robotic soil sampling as a sideline business.
  “We have developed the technology to get the price down to $74,500,” says Burton. “Farmers can do their own and their neighbors, too.”
  Burton says the AutoProbe can be used with different, existing, precision software mapping packages. Sampling paths across the field can be laid out by grid or zone.
  Check a video of the AutoProbe at FARMSHOW.COM.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, AgRobotics, LLC, 1818 North Taylor St., Suite B, PMB 319, Little Rock, Ark. 72207 (ph 501 244-9070, toll free 800 734-8770; info@autoprobe.ag; www.agrobotics.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4