URBANA, Ill. — Researchers at the University of Illinois are trying something new on the country’s oldest experimental crop field.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2rAkfu8 ) workers are measuring the soil at the university’s Morrow Plots with sensors instead of using soil probes.

Agronomist Bob Dunker manages the three plots. He says soil probes removed a considerable amount of dirt from the ground over the years.

The university used an OpticMapper to measure soil electroconductivity, pH and organic matter before planting last week. The OpticMapper is pulled behind a tractor and uses a dual-wavelength optical sensor about two inches below the surface to take measurements. A high-resolution GPS records the location.

The OpticMapper will be run again after harvest this fall. Dunker says it will allow them to compare results to previous years’ samples.

Information from: The News-Gazette, http://www.news-gazette.com

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