- crops access soil nutrients
- nutrients move into the grain.
SoilSoil test before planting to:
- check nutrient availability
- identify soil chemical constraints
- refine fertiliser rates
- watch pH and soil carbon levels (cropping can lower soil pH and carbon stocks).
LeafTissue tests are better than soil tests at picking up trace element deficiencies. Tissue test the youngest fully expanded leaf blade. Test when the crop is young, preferably before visual symptoms appear. Yield has already declinedby the time you can see symptoms. Nutrient treatments are less effective in older crops. It is difficult to diagnose a deficiency only from visual symptoms. These can look like:
- crop diseases
- the effect of weather events
- different nutrient deficiencies.
GrainTest grain at harvest to see:
- if the nutrient content is high enough to maximise seed vigour
- if any nutrient levels were low and could have restricted crop yield
- nutrient removal rates
How often should you test?
SoilTest soil nitrogen (N) every year if you want to refine nitrogen budgets. Test other nutrients ever 2 – 3 years to monitor nutrient levels. While it’s not common to test soil through the growing season, in-crop tests can:
- better assess the contribution from summer and autumn nitrogen mineralisation
- help refine in-crop N rates.
LeafLeaf tests are a diagnostic tool. There’s no need for regular testing of healthy looking crops. Use them:
- to monitor when significant changes are made to a seasonal nutrient program
- in young crops where soil tests or paddock history suggest risk of a trace element deficiency
- to troubleshoot crops with symptoms, particularly where you can compare with healthy crop zones in the paddock.
GrainTest grain after:
- high yielding crops to factor in nutrient removal for next seasons nutrient budget
- poor crops not explained by other factors
- normal crops to track long term nutrient budgets.
- Can trace elements improve frost tolerance?
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