The New Year is almost upon us and if you are like most agricultural business owners, you have a formidable to-do list to conquer before you ring in 2018. It is only natural then that you would want to eliminate some tasks from your to – do list in an effort to simplify. As you […]

Marketing experts are predicting that by 2020, half of all internet searches will be voice searches. While there are several other statistics and predications related to voice searches, up until now these have primarily focused on how voice searches are going to impact SEO.

Now there is another question related to voice searches—will these searches extend to grocery shopping? While only about one-third of consumers who own a voice-activated smart device say they use it to shop online, retailers are still fighting for a piece of the pie that is the voice shopping market.

Alexa and Google Home are forging partnerships with some of the major grocery store chains even though research shows that more than 60 percent of consumers say they prefer to grocery shop instore and less than 5 percent prefer to use a smart device instead.

It’s easy to see how this could quickly change, however, given the rise in the use of digital coupons, QR or barcodes to compare prices and in-store item locators. It makes sense, then, that food retailers want to get in at the beginning of what could be a booming trend.

So why would consumers—even the many who say they would prefer to shop instore for groceries—be swayed to use voice-activated smart devices to grocery shop in the near future? According to experts, here are just a few of them:

  • Convenience. Nothing trumps convenience when it comes to online grocery shopping. When consumers really think about how much time it takes to go grocery shopping (and then go back to pick up items they forget during their first trip) it’s hard to argue that their time could be better spent.
  • Savings. Comparison shopping is a breeze when all you have to do is ask Alexa or Siri to find the best price on a particular product.
  • Less impulse buying. That box of brownies can’t tempt you to buy it if you never see it.
  • No crowds. It would be difficult to find anyone who enjoys a crowded grocery store on a Saturday. Jam-packed parking lots also aren’t something people look forward to.
  • Discretion. There are some purchases you would rather the teenager in the checkout line didn’t have to see. Enough said.
    Voice-activated trips to the grocery store may not be a big thing today but like everything else in the marketing world, that could quickly change.

It is for this reason that so many retailers aren’t going to risk being left behind if, and when, this trend takes off.

Soil testing is an outstanding method for assessing the fertilizer needs of your soil. Given the cost of fertilizer, soil sampling is the best way to determine whether you are using the correct amount of fertilizer on your crops.

Most agricultural experts recommend testing soil every two to four years. They also caution that soil testing is not a task to be taken lightly and that to get accurate results, it must be done correctly and consistently.

What follows are some important things to keep in mind when collecting soil samples:

  1. Mind your tools. Tools that are not clean will contaminate soil samples so it is important that you never use tools that have not been thoroughly washed. Plastic tools and buckets are preferable to metal ones as metal may have small amounts of rust or zinc that can flake off and contaminate the samples. Such contamination will skew the results of the soil’s nutrients.
  2. Dig at the same depth. Experts recommend collecting samples roughly 7 inches deep. Collecting too shallow of samples will give misleading results about nutrient-supplying capacity. Likewise, going too deep down for samples will lead to diluted soil concentrations. Consistency also is important so make sure you dig down the same number of inches for all samples.
  3. Carefully collect and mix cores. It is critical to collect enough cores per sample area. This number should be anywhere between 15 and 20 cores. When you fail to collect enough cores, the soil samples will be inaccurate. Remember, the samples you are collecting represent a huge number of pounds of soil so there must be enough to get precise results. Cores also must be thoroughly mixed. This will allow the composite to contain an accurate mixture of all the soil samples.
  4. Sample in the fall. Fall is usually the best time for soil sampling because it allows you enough time to get it right. In the fall, there is more time to collect samples, run the analysis and then buy the right fertilizer. If you must do your soil sampling at another time of year, however, make sure you do it the same time each year.

Soil sampling is an outstanding method to ensure that you are making efficient use of your fertilizer. It also helps you to devise the best fertilizer management plan over the long term. Finally, when done correctly, it will go a long way toward improving yields.