HERMISTON - Dave Fraser, a Simplot agronomist in Oregon and Washington, gathered a small group around a four-wheeler with a six-disk device attached. He described how the Veris 3100 could be used to create soil maps.

Fraser was among 13 salesmen, scientists and combinations thereof who had a field day promoting their new equipment Thursday.

Literally.

The vendors, representing several agricultural businesses, set up displays at the Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Equipment ranged from huge tractors with spray booms to small automated tractor steering devices. About 40 farmers, students and agency representatives viewed the displays during the annual Umatilla County Weed and Crop Tour.

At Fraser's display, he said two of the six disks on the Veris 3100 put an electrical charge into the ground as the device travels through a field. Meanwhile, the other four disks measure electrical conductivity and transfer the information to a computer that creates soil maps.

"You can find potential high-yield areas and target low-yield areas," Fraser said.

The information derived helps farmers determine variable rates of fertilizer applications. By applying fertilizer only where it's needed, farmers can save time, fuel and fertilizer.

"The bankers are even liking them now," Fraser said, referring to the soil map printouts.

Bryan Brock, manager of Columbia River Bank's Hermiston branch, confirmed that.

"We are open to our farmers being as efficient as possible," he said. "Inputs are so expensive now and changing the dynamic of farming."

Fraser said spring and fall are the best times to use the equipment.

"You've got to have some moisture," he said.

John Monagle of Pendleton, who works at Simplot Grower Solutions in Umatilla, explained the sensors on four disks read resistance and log the information every at one-second intervals. Each reading is tagged with a global position, which helps the computer create the maps.

One use generally is enough on most fields.

"Once you've collected that data, unless you're moving dirt around, it's never going to change," he said.

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