Becks PFR
Robotic Sampling Study

Robotics decreases nutrient error due to sampling and improves fertilizer efficiency

At a Glance


How much error exists simply based on how it’s sampled? 

Study Details: 

  • 1 Random Field x 14 Sample Sites (8 x 6in. cores in a 30 ft. circle)
  • Same Protocol Each Time
  • Humans and Robot Sampled 3 times
  • Humans Knew They Were Being Tested
  • The Robot Knew It was Being Tested ;)
  • Lab: A&L Great Lakes

Key Results: 

  • Takeaway #1: Robot eliminates nutrient errors
  • Takeaway #2: Robot eliminates fertilizer bill swings

Additional Observations: 

  • 2 Problems: Inconsistent Depth & Location
  • Depth & Location Had Similar Error Impact
  • Robot achieved lab level accuracy of 2.5% Error

Robots vs. humans


The Test

Humans with hand probes and Rogo’s SmartCore robot sampled the same field multiple times in the same day, and the variance error was compared.  It’s important to note that the humans knew they were being measured and did their best. As a result, this is the best case scenario for humans.

Sampling Configuration

  • Samples taken on Randomly Selected, Conv. Till Field, 35 acres
  • 2.5 ac. grid, 14 sample points, 8x  6-in. cores per sample, 9 Trials

Quick Breakdown

The Results

  • Total Error Decreased  Rogo decreased total soil testing error from 14% to 4.9%, a ~10% reduction in error
  • Soil Collection Error Decreased – Rogo reduced soil collection error from 12% to 2.5%, equaling the lab analysis in precision
  • Fertility Bill Swing Decreased – Rogo decreased the Tri-state recommendation error from +/- 25% (or +/- $22) to +/- 10% (or +/- $9)
  • 8x Return on Investment – Rogo’s ROI for Annual Sampling for precision error reduction
  • 2x Efficiency – Rogo’s robot was 2x as fast at getting the job done

Robots vs. Humans Comparison

Humans Robot
Nutrient Error 14%5%
Fertilizer bill swing +-/$22 (25%)+-/$9 (10%)
AccountabilitySampler in the right field?Location and depth of every core
*All results statistically validated. We used Tri-State Recs for all results. Lab Error was determined based on an estimate by Laboratory (A&L Great Lakes).  Tri-state recommendation $85/acre for P, K, Lime

Decrease nutrient error caused by human sampling

Optimize your fertilizer by at least 10%

How this affects your farm

are robots Better at taking soil samples?

  • Robotics eliminate nutrient error by going to the exact spot in the field and taking the correct depth
  • Robotics eliminate fertilizer bill swings

The Results

Precision Error – Humans vs Robots

Definition: The difference in soil sampling results if we sample the same field the same way.

  • (see graphic)

Precision Error vs. Size of  Maintenance Band

  • How many of your acres move between build-up and draw-down simply based on how you sample? (Maint. Band Size)
  • For a given sample, robotic error was always less than the maintenance range.
  • % of human samples that had an error wider than the range itself. Could be randomly moving between the samples.

Precision Error by Fertility Component

(see graphic)

Precision Economics Graphic – Fertility Bill ($) Swing

  • (See graphic)
  • How much your fertilizer bill swings simply based on how you sample it in a given year!
  • The error gets worse when you create recs – 10% error on nutrient side → 25% error on the rec

Precision Economics

(See graphic). 

  • Sample Annually
  • Corn/Bean Rotation Sample Every 2 Years

a New way to sample soil

Build a Modern Fertility Program with SmartCore™

Robotic soil sampling increases sampling precision and accuracy, and allows for farmers and ag retailers to build accurate fertility management plans.


Get better insight to ensure the fields are being sampled, and to your specifications.


Get the job done with a reputable company and technology.


Every core is taken at the exact depth and accurate location to ensure quality samples.

Ready To Get Robotic Sampling On Your Acres?

Give us a call to have your acres sampled robotically this season and get more accurate results

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