Do you know what’s going on in your paddock? Here is why tissue testing is a must.
If you’re looking at an underperforming paddock and seeing unhealthy plants, the easy answer might be just to apply a trace element. It is true that some visual symptoms can give you a guide on a potential deficiency. But one characteristic may be due to another completely unrelated problem. For example, it could just be a temporary state of the plant due to external factors such as frost, drought, or slow or restricted root growth. To get an idea of what your crop might be lacking, you need to look at the whole situation. Your region, soil type, the season, previous crops, and fertilisers all come into the equation. The most accurate way to diagnose what is going on is tissue testing. If you suspect a micronutrient deficiency do a tissue test first. This will ensure you aren’t wasting time and money applying a trace element spray that isn’t needed.
Why is a tissue test important?
A plants health and productivity depend a lot on what the roots can take up from the soil. The only way we can get an accurate understanding of what’s going on inside the plant is by doing a tissue test. Tissue tests are a powerful analysis tool for assessing the mineral nutrients of the plant and finding out what elements are in abundance, as well as what is in demand. Mostly we only look to use these tests when we can see a visible problem. However, by doing them early and consistently each year, we can discover impending issues before they become acute. Also, they alert us to adverse soil conditions or nutrient imbalances that have yet to show up. The main point is that many deficiencies can cost you yield without seeing any visual symptoms. Just because a paddock may look good doesn’t mean there isn’t anything that is possibly lacking. A great looking paddock might disappoint at harvest and leave you wondering why. A tissue test done early can increase your yield by knowing it’s worth implementing a low-cost trace element spray.
How does it help me?
You can save money, increase yield, and farm efficiently by knowing and applying exactly what your crop needs. By understanding what our plants need – or what they already have – we can assess whether a load of fertiliser or a low-cost zinc spray is viable.
We are also able to fix any deficiencies that may not have appeared visually with foliar applications of trace elements. Ensuring the correct nutrient is being applied will provide better crop growth and yield. You most likely cannot visually observe a 10% lack of zinc in your plants. But a test showing that it exists, supported by a foliar zinc spray, will help give you that 10% extra yield at harvest.
It also helps you plan out requirements for upcoming seasons. For example, a canola plant tissue test may indicate low copper levels. Because canola is a low user of copper, you may decide it isn’t necessary to apply copper this year. However, you might set a reminder for the following year, when you plan to plant wheat. Adding copper then will ensure next years crop has what it needs to be productive.
Why not just soil test pre-sowing?
Tissue tests can be more accurate than soil testing. Concentrations of nutrients in the soil may not be plant available. A tissue test can show more precisely the nutrient status of the plant and what is available, and also what is needed to make other nutrients more available.
How do I organise one?
Our agronomists are out taking samples in paddocks now so if you want a better idea of what’s going on in your paddock give us a call and we can get tests organised today. The tests take about a week before results come back.