Quite often, plants can exhibit a case of ‘hidden hunger’, or nutritional deficiencies can go unnoticed. These hold the crop back from achieving optimum biomass and yielding capacity (not peak biomass as this does not always equate to the best overall gross margin/cashflow budget).
Tools such as tissue and soil testing are the first port of call to help agronomists and growers alike identify such limitations within the cropping system. Likewise, toxicity issues associated with saline/sodic soils or pH imbalances can be identified using such tools and, in most cases, amended or adapted to thus remove the limitation.
Ideally, although not necessarily always economically viable, tissue and soil testing can be done in collaboration. This paints a much clearer picture with regard to what the plant is experiencing. If you have a particular paddock/section of land which is continually underperforming relative to the rest of your property, this may be a good option for you.
In some cases, the nutrient concentrations measured within a soil sample may not represent the plant available fraction. Therefore, whilst the soil results may look healthy, the plant tissue test may show a deficiency. In cases such as this, it may be beneficial to apply nutrients in foliar applications as its likely the nutrient is becoming bound in the soil resource for one reason or another, making it plant unavailable. This is commonly observed in either limestone or heavy iron and aluminium rich clay soils we see locally.
Another positive management option, Cox Rural can offer, is paddock mapping. We can soil sample on a grid-based pattern across paddocks to highlight spatial variability, adding another layer to yield maps collected at harvest time. This allows applications of soil amendments to be redirected to areas that will respond best, relocating from less responsive areas. This ultimately leads to an increased return on investment.
In a pastural situation, soil tests can assist with the identification of species selection to meet all environmental limitations such as soil acidity/alkalinity leading to aluminium and boron toxicity or phosphorous, zinc, copper and moly deficiency or alternatively sodicity/salinity. Matching pasture species to your environment can help to ensure you are getting the most from your every hector and rainfall event in addition to meeting your livestock nutritional requirements. Another management option is feed testing to give you an idea of pasture nutritional composition. This can help to ensure that livestock are receiving a balanced diet and you’re feeding elements such as protein most economically.
Another test is PredictaB, which quantifies levels of bacteria and fungi such as crown rot, rhizoctonia or take-all. This can help identify potential constraints to identify plausible solutions moving forward.
If you’d like to know more feel free to come in store to contact me.