As promised, Andy has picked a sunny day to use the Vortis suction sampler. By 'hoovering' critters off the plants it allows us to monitor invertebrates that hang out on the foliage - caterpillars, aphids, beetles, and that sort of thing. Many of these will be herbivores, feeding on the plants they are on, though others will just be resting.
Andy spends 10 seconds passing the sampler along the plants on each side of the plot, following by another 10 seconds sampling the plants in the middle, and an additional 10 seconds on the climber as this is usually taller than the other plants. He repeats this across all 36 beds.
So how does it work?
Essentially, the Vortis is powered by a petrol engine (the orange bit at the top), which creates a strong sucking action at the nozzle end (the grey bit at the bottom). When passed over foliage this sucks up a mix of insects and loose plant debris which enters a chamber in the middle (conveniently fitted with a see-through top);
The sample is deposited in a plastic container on the side of the machine;
The advantage of this bit of kit over other designs is that it doesn't macerate the sample and collects it without the need for nets or filters.
The last part involves labelling the sample, fitting a tight lid so nothing escapes and taking it back to the lab for examination at a later date;