Volunteers Needed for Sampling Corn Grain

In June with wheat harvest underway, I asked people to send in grain samples so that under an NREC-funded project we could measure P and K levels to try to sharpen up our nutrient removal numbers.

We got a few wheat samples. We also, thanks to the Illinois Soybean Association, found a way to get a good number of soybean samples to measure P and K after they are tested for protein and oil.

Our real need now is to get corn grain samples from the 2014 harvest. Thanks to some generous volunteers, we’ve been able to cover getting samples from most of southern Illinois and parts of the rest of the state. The biggest need we have now is for samples from Illinois north of I-80, and in central Illinois with the exception of the westernmost part of the state.

We’re not trying to get uniform coverage across the state, but would like to find people who could gather 20 to 30 samples per county in the large corn-growing counties, with some samples from each county. Individual producers can send in samples from several different fields, but having volunteers to take samples within a county or area will be more efficient. Maybe a group of producers getting together for a meeting could each bring 3 or 4 samples.

The process of collecting samples is as painless as we can make it:

1. Each volunteer sends an email to NPKremoval@gmail.com giving the number of sample bags he or she would like and the shipping address to which they should be sent. The shipment of the bags will include a box (or boxes) with prepaid shipping labels so samples can be sent to us here at the University of Illinois.

2. Each bag will have a blank label to record the field location. We prefer GPS coordinates, or ZIP code if GPS isn’t possible. The only other thing we’re asking for is yield level – just an estimate for the field. If the sample comes from a combine it can be the monitored yield level in the area of the field where the sample was collected.

3. Each sample should be about 200 g (6 ounces) of grain, or about two handfuls.

4. When all samples have been collected, send them in the box provided with the prepaid shipping label. Send them early in the week so they don’t sit over the weekend if there is wet grain.

5. For those who want to see the numbers from their own samples, we’ll put a blank on the label for an email address – this will be optional.

Please email me if you have any questions about this. And thanks for the help.