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Robot pulls soil samples better than you

Tom Coyne, Purdue Research Foundation SmartCore soil-sampling robot
WHERE IS THE PERSON? The SmartCore robot from startup Rogo can operate on its own, without a person. My son, Daniel, pulled soil samples using GPS as a job during high school.
Hi-Tech Farming: A soil sampling robot developed by a startup company receives funding from nonprofit groups.

My son, Daniel, worked for a local soil consultant during high school pulling soil samples. He operated an ATV equipped with GPS. Will future “Daniels” be replaced by robots?

Troy Fiechter, co-founder and CEO of startup company Rogo, thinks so. He and Drew Schumacher, Rogo co-founder and president, believe their SmartCore autonomous soil sampler can do what people do now, only better.

“SmartCore can help farmers make more strategic decisions in fertilizer use and potentially reduce the amount of fertilizer they need to use, which reduces their cost,” Fiechter says. “It does this by getting the depth and location of each core of soil right.”

Built on a Bobcat skid-steer chassis, SmartCore uses field boundary algorithms and lidar sensors, plus a hydraulic bit and RTK GPS. It’s capable of returning to the same sampling spot the next time the field is sampled, Schumacher says.

Two not-for-profit groups each awarded Rogo Ag LLC $100,000 to help bring this technology to market. They are the Purdue University Ag-Celerator fund and Ag Alumni Seed. The Ag-Celerator is a $2 million fund developed by Purdue’s College of Agriculture and the Purdue Research Foundation. Ag Alumni Seed, also connected to Purdue, is a breeder, producer and marketer of hybrid popcorn.  

‘Social’ weed control

No, you can’t kill weeds by zapping them from Instagram or Twitter. Yet Syngenta has launched #ShowYourRowContest as a strictly social-media competition. By sharing weed-free cornfield images, you’re automatically entered for a chance to win a $500 StubHub gift card. The only catch is you must have treated cornfields with Acuron or Acuron Flexi. Be sure to use the contest hashtag.   

Agronomy app

Corteva Pioneer introduces a free app for your phone that provides enough articles on pertinent agronomic crop topics to make you a crops junkie. The real goal is helping you access information on corn and soybean management when you’re ready to make a real-time decision in the field. It’s called the GrowingPoint Agronomy app. Access it from your app store. You’ll find a storehouse of information from Pioneer agronomists and other sources.

New company is official

Speaking of Corteva, the new company became official June 1. That’s when it legally separated from its parent, DowDuPont, following the earlier merger of the two corporate giants. Corteva is now what spokespeople call a “leading, pure-play agriculture company.” Corteva has more than 21,000 employees and a presence in over 140 countries. Corteva Agriscience generated $14 billion in net sales in 2018, operates 150 research and development facilities, and has more than 65 active ingredients in the marketplace pipeline.

High-speed disk

The Rubin 12 from Lemken is a high-speed disk if you’re invested in intense residue management. The new implement features 29-inch, serrated, concave disks to incorporate residue faster. It’s available in widths ranging from 9.8 to 23 feet and runs at speeds up to 10 miles per hour. Learn more at

Ag trailer tires

Michelin recently added two low-pressure trailer tire sizes for ag use. Michelin’s CargoXBib High Flotation tire is designed as a low-pressure transport tire, available in 28LR26 and 800/60R32 sizes. It features a new tread design and a wear indicator. It’s ideal for trailers, spreaders and slurry tankers. Visit

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