Soil, Plant Tissue & Water Testing
Soil is the most important resource in an agricultural system. The structure, fertility and general health of the soil is a critical determinant of crop and pasture production.
Understanding and maintaining the chemical, physical and biological ‘health’ of your soil will provide the foundation for increased sustainable productivity.
By testing the current chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil, farmers are able to:
- determine the fertility status of the soil
- determine fertiliser requirements and the most appropriate fertiliser products
- determine soil ameliorant requirements, eg lime and gypsum
- make more confident decisions, including determining expected yields and the profitability of an expected investment in fertiliser
- monitor changes in fertility over time.
Soil fertility is most accurately measured by conducting a program of soil testing. Landmark branches and Landmark Agronomists able to supply soil test kits.
The Interpretation of soil-test reports requires specialist knowledge of
- soil types
- paddock history
- local conditions
- expected yields (in the case of crops)
- stocking rates (in the case of pastures).
Landmark agronomists using Nutriwise interpretative software are trained to interpret soil tests and make accurate fertiliser and soil ameliorant recommendations.
Obtaining a representative soil sample is critical. Landmark, highly recommends the following:
- conduct a regular soil test program and maintain records
- obtain a soil test kit from you Landmark branch
- use clean sampling equipment
- avoid stock camps, gateways, recently fertilised areas, etc
- if soil types vary markedly across the paddock, eg from loam to clay, take separate samples for each soil type
- take 20-30 representative samples from across the paddock on affixed transect; ideally GPS grid points should be used for accurate monitoring over time
- soil cores should be taken from 0-10cm or 0-30cm (for advice contact your local Landmark agronomist)
- a map and plan of the soil sampling areas is required.
Soil test results and soil test types can be mapped and interpreted, and recommendations can be made based on the crop types grown, expected rainfall and yield and quality expectations.
Plant Tissue Testing
Plant tissue analysis is a strategic monitoring tool which can compliment soil testing. Plant tissue testing allows farmers to fine-tune nutritional programs by testing exactly what is in the plant.
Plant tissue testing is particularly useful for determining the timing of nutrient applications, ensuring the right balance of different nutrients, and for confirming possible trace-element deficiencies before they affect production.
Correct sampling techniques are critical for plant tissue tests to be effective. Sampling advice is available in plant tissue testing kits or from your local Landmark agronomist.
Plant tissue material is dried and analysed for major chemical elements (eg nitrogen) or trace elements (eg zinc). Actual levels are then compared with ideal levels in the particular crop at the same stage of growth, developed following decades of research. Results are interpreted and recommendations are made.
Testing the chemical make-up of irrigation and stock water is important to avoid potential crop-production, soil-health or farm-livestock problems.
A water test includes testing for pH, electrical conductivity and a range of chemical elements and compounds.