Where can I purchase a soil-sampling spear?

Most soil-sampling and testing implements - including spears - can be obtained through Gloucestershire-based Agricultural Supply Services.

The company offers a typical corer type, suitable for most uses, priced at £50 or a stainless-steel version for heavier use for £97.50. Both prices exclude VAT and delivery charges.

Sampling a soil profile with a corer can tell a lot about the condition of the soil, but it is worth noting that Agricultural Supply Services offers many other items that are useful in determining the nature of a soil.

For instance, the company supplies Dickey-John soil compaction testers for £225. These are ideal for sports fields and give quick answers to how severely a soil is compacted and at what depth, enabling result comparison against a set scale.

Armed with compaction information, you can decide on turf aeration or soil cultivation programmes. Compaction leads to poor root development as well as poor water movement and uptake and also poor utilisation of fertilisers. The more compact that the ground is, the greater the power needed to aerate and cultivate - so increased fuel bills, too.

Another useful device from Agricultural Supply Services is the DM-5 Soil pH Meter. Priced at £105 + VAT and delivery, this meter is compact and very easy to use to give a quick pH assessment - perhaps to determine suitable plants in a landscape or to decide liming requirements. However, to ensure precise readings it is always best to back up any field tests with laboratory testing.

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