Electric Shock “Therapy” for Soil

Laura McNamara

All it takes to find out what kind of soils and elements are found in a plot of land is just a bit of electric charge. Veris Technologies has developed a method for determining soil ratios using electricity:

“What we’re looking at here is using AC voltage or very low voltage injecting it into the soil with two electrodes,” Paul Drummond said. “Then, we’re actually measuring the voltage with another pair and the conductivity is actually driven by the sand, silt, clay content of the soil. So the heavy clays are highly conductive, silts are in the mid-range and sands are very poor conductors.”

Paul says the electric-shocking instrument will take readings every second and will read the conductivity of each particular location. This, he says, offers the farmer information on the relative sand, silt or clay differential or texture within the particular area of the field. Paul says farmers can then use this information to “generate a yield potential map and ultimately an input map based on those soil differential zones.”

Paul says soil conductivity is an old technology that dates back to mining exploration in the 1920s, but Veris is the first to use the technology for agricultural applications. Paul adds that the agricultural climate today is ripe for the development and adaption of such precision ag technologies:

“In the last few months we’ve seen inputs just rise dramatically, and if you’re going to stay competitive in this environment you’re really going to have to pinpoint your inputs and really minimize your expense on areas that aren’t very productive,” Paul said. “It’s really the time for precision ag to really become a reality.”

I interviewed Paul about Veris’ electric soil mapping technology. You can listen to my interview with Paul here:

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