Crop Leaf Analysis
Soil tests are promoted by many agricultural advisers to be done every year to help farmers budget their fertiliser decision for the new season ahead. I could never understand the reasoning for this. Logic tells us that there will be very little if any difference in soil test results from one year to another. We know that changes in soils happen slowly over time. The Analysis of Crop Leaf or Tissues is slightly different.
How often should we test our SOIL?
At Soil Management Systems we advocate Comprehensive Soil Analysis Test about once every five years. The report and recommendations on such a test can outline actions to be enacted and budgeted for over next several seasons. A follow up test several years later will then inform of progress and may actually have something new to show. To read more about Soil Tests and the researchers who provide analysis on soil properties and plant tissues visit APAL Agriculture Laboratory Website
Why is the Analysis of Leaf Tissue Different?
Leaf Tissue Analysis however is different in that seasonal conditions, crop variety, inputs and management practices can influence nutrient uptake every year. These test compliment the soil test and give a fuller picture of responses in season. We recommend Leaf Tissue Test every year for three to four years to gain knowledge and understanding of these influences after which they may not be done quite so often as experience will then inform decisions.
Tissue test reports and recommendations should be designed to fine tune the balance of nutrients in the plant during the growing season. A balanced nutritional program not only leads to higher yields but also a more robust vigorous plant more resistant to fungus or insect attack and may reduce the reliance on chemical control. Other benefits include more efficient water and fertiliser use efficiency and even some tolerance to frosts damage.
Frequently farmers are surprised at their tissue test results thinking they have addressed deficiencies in the fertiliser program. However, depending on soil imbalances, adequate nutrients in the soil do not always translate to uptake into the plant. There are synergies and antagonisms between mineral nutrients in an unbalanced soil and fertiliser inputs. During the growing season foliar application of nutrients can pay great dividends in the health of the plant by correcting its imbalances.
Soil Management Systems has Leaf Tissue Analysis kits that can be posted out with information for taking samples for accurate results.
For information on Leaf Tissue Analysis or a Soil Test Kit click on this link, or contact our office direct on 08 8659 0000.