It goes without saying that the welfare of your soil is intrinsic to agricultural health because when soil is healthy, it provides the nutrients and moisture crops need. A healthy soil can help to mitigate the impact of climate change by acting as a carbon store.

In fact, soil is the second largest carbon sink after the ocean, capturing more CO2 than forests and holding three times more carbon than the earth’s atmosphere. You only need to look at the giant slab of carbon-rich peat, discovered in central Africa and described as the ‘lungs of humanity’; its demise with the release of some 30 billion tonnes of carbon will accelerate global change. But our soil is under constant threat.

Climate change and the increased occurrence of extreme weather has led to more droughts as well as more flooding. Rising sea levels not only threaten our habitats, but can also contaminate our soils and cause erosion. Some agricultural practices have also reduced the quality and quantity of our topsoil. It is easy to see why soil research has grown in importance in the agricultural sector. Soil is a finite resource so we must conserve what we have. Sampling, measuring, and monitoring our soils is the foundation of bringing about change and improvements in agriculture.

Among other things, soil research addresses nutrient management, sustainability, and agricultural efficiency. It can take many forms, but whatever your requirement is to investigate your soil, you will need the right equipment. The Van Walt Group has been offering soil and sediment sampling equipment for more than forty years. Now from five offices across three continents, we offer equipment for sampling and collecting soil and sediment samples, monitoring the chemical make-up of soils and, crucially, the moisture content of a soil — parameters vital for soil welfare.

“Equipment from our US manufacturer, AMS Samplers Inc, is the best available when it comes to soil sampling,” says Jani van Gend, Director Van Walt SA (Pty) Ltd.

“When we first opened our new office in Stellenbosch just over two years ago, we were careful to find a supplier whom we could trust and who offered excellent equipment when it came to soil research. AMS not only has one of the largest selections, but the quality is excellent, their service is prompt, and the support and equipment advice is superb. We confidently offer this equipment to our customers knowing they are getting the best available.”

For basic soil research, Van Walt’s augers for the collection of disturbed soil samples are strong and come in a variety of sizes and shaped heads for different soil types. We can help you choose the right auger or auger kit to make taking soil samples quick and easy Soil probes, including our range of step probes, have been designed to provide a simple, fast, and economic method of sample collection for soil profiling, moisture determination, and chemical analysis.

For soil research where an undisturbed soil sample is needed, our selection of Soil Core Samplers allows samples to be collected in a liner or directly into the body of a soil core sampler for immediate examination of the sample. AMS’s Gas Powered Core Sampling Kit is a powerful, nondestructive, low disturbance site investigation tool for collecting soil samples down to 2,4 metres. More specialised soil sampling kits are available, like AMS Bulk Density Soil Sampling Kits which come with everything required to take an accurate interval-specific core sample to a depth of 0,91 metres. The rings are ideal for laboratory studies and for undisturbed core samples.

Our soil range also includes more specialised soil testing equipment like pH probes for continuous on-site monitoring, or our unique, highly accurate on-site Soil Redox Electrode to measure the redox potential in soils.

For soil moisture we have equipment from Rhizons for soil solution sampling – increasingly important in agriculture to check if plants can access the water and nutrients needed for healthy growth. Plus, we have a range of soil moisture sensors, many connected to our telemetry, to give accurate soil moisture data directly to your desktop, tablet or mobile.

For more information on Van Walt’s extensive range of soil research equipment visit www.vanwalt. com/za or call them on (+27) 021- 518-1347.