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The South Australian Grower -- June 2010
Critical steps for
By JOHN NORTON
IF you are a grower who wants
to achieve optimum yields,
improved plant health and prof-
itability then performing soil and
leaf tests at set times throughout
the season should be part of your
standard farming practice.
Growers are increasingly incor-
porating this into their practices,
not only for the crops' health and
yield, but to save money by only
applying the exact nutrient
requirements at set times.
Soil health is a critical element
and the lifeblood of your business.
In this context, it is critically
important to gain an understand-
ing of the mechanics of soil fertili-
ty and nutrition.
Nine out of 10 growers who per-
form soil tests repeat the process
year after year because soil balanc-
ing combined with biological acti-
vation (improving soil microbe
activity) achieves results.
A soil analysis will highlight any
deficiencies and excesses so that
these can be addressed.
Leaf testing is also another criti-
cal step because it provides infor-
mation on a crop's status in terms
of nutritional levels.
This enables the grower to adjust
foliar applications throughout the
season to the exact requirements
of the plants.
Based on ideal levels growers can
achieve precision nutrition at each
critical crop stage.
How to perform test:
Taking soil and leaf samples is a
simple process and, for a small fee,
a laboratory (that specialises in soil
and leaf testing) can provide an
It is recommended that growers
seek the advice of an agronomist
to interpret these results because
they have access to ideal nutrition-
al levels for various crops, and can
then work out what is required in
terms of fertiliser inputs.
The cost varies throughout labo-
ratories and some agronomists
charge consulting fees.
However, these costs are mini-
mal when you compare the bene-
fits this analysis has on your crops
When to perform test:
It is recommended that a soil test
is performed annually.
Tree fruit growers generally do
this at the end of the season in
order to address soil requirements
in time for the next season.
An initial soil test may reveal many
deficiencies but as you continue each
year the soil will require less and less
nutrients as it becomes corrected.
Leaf tests need to be performed
more regularly as the crop changes
substantially throughout the crop
Leaf tests should ideally be per-
formed monthly for tree crops or,
at the least, at critical crop stages,
such as pre-flowering and at fr uit
It is also a good idea to conduct
a leaf analysis at the same time as
your annual soil test.
This will help to complete the
picture and identify nutrients with
an availability issue that may
appear to be at adequate levels in
the soil (commonly because of a
soil biology deficit or a nutritional
antagonism) in addition to identi-
fying nutrients that the trees may
be accessing from sub-soil
A leaf test at this stage allows for
a remedial liquid application that
will help to build tree reser ves for
the following season.
This is a key time for ensuring
optimum nutrition. A limiting ele-
ment can severely affect future
Soil and leaf testing provides
producers with a healthier (less
pest issues), more profitable crop.
It also provides consumers with
more nutritious fruits and vegeta-
bles. They will also have longer
shelf-life and better tastes and tex-
In a world where consumers are
becoming more particular about
the quality of their food, this rep-
resents a step all growers should
Details: Laboratory testing, free agro-
nomic advice and sustainable product
solutions Bio-Tech Organics 08 8380
8554 or 0412 305 158.
BUSINESS DECISION: Tree fruit growers generally schedule analysis at the end of the season in order to address soil
requirements in time for the next year.
"Eco-Ag...Way to Grow!"
Shop 5, Geradis Building, Old Port Road, Pt Wakefield, VIRGINIA 5120
Activated Carbon for Your Soils
Innoculate your soils & crop with the
very best biological products,
nature has to offer.
IMPROVE SOIL BIOLOGY
IMPROVE SOIL BIOLOGY
08 8380 8554
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