Proper Plant Analysis Timing Helps Improve Fertility Plans

Soil tests, tissue samples and in-field nutrient sensors can provide valuable information for a no-tiller’s fertility program, but only if the results and recommendations are accurate.

Pictured Above: LOOKING FOR SYMPTOMS. Plant tissue analysis can tell a grower if a nutrient is limiting but can’t explain why. John Grove says it can be used to diagnose “hidden hunger,” which is a deficiency that isn’t presenting visible symptoms. Such deficiencies in a crop can result in a 10-20% decrease in dry matter yield

When relying on nutrient recommendations from your soil and plant test results to plan your fertility program, do you know how accurate those recommendations are?

At the 2018 National No-Tillage Conference, John Grove explained that soil test results may not be as accurate as they could be if they aren’t correlated and calibrated for a no-tiller’s specific situation.

The University of Kentucky plant and soil scientist, as well as director of the university’s Research and Education Center in Princeton, Ky., discussed what no-tillers need to know about soil testing to get accurate recommendations. He also shared how tissue sampling can provide more information on their fertility program and how to utilize crop-sensing technologies to learn more about crop nutrition.

Start with Soil

The first thing no-tillers need to keep in mind when taking a soil test is that because they’re in a no-till environment, there will be vertical differences due to nutrient stratification within the topsoil. Stratification takes place over time and this needs to be taken into account.

Go to: to read more about why soil test recommendations should have you asking additional questions about your specific farming conditions.

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Laura allen

Laura Barrera

Laura Barrera is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. Prior to joining No-Till Farmer, she served as an assistant editor for a greenhouse publication. Barrera holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Ball State University.

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