153-5 Plant Tissue Analysis In the Southeastern US: Consultant Perspective.

See more from this Division: S08 Nutrient Management & Soil & Plant Analysis
See more from this Session: Symposium--Plant Analysis for Assessing Potential Yield Limitations
Monday, October 22, 2012: 3:20 PM
Duke Energy Convention Center, Room 211, Level 2
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C. Ray Campbell, Terra Blue, Inc, Raleigh, NC
Plant Analysis has been long recognized as a powerful tool in problem solving. Researchers have used plant analysis to confirm nutrient uptake and calibrate soil test prediction equations for decades. In recent years,   consulting services have developed businesses around the added production advantages that routine plant analysis provides.

The most significant advantage provided by plant analysis is its use as a monitoring tool to improve production and quality while also avoiding unnecessary expenditures. When animal production by-products and other bio-renewable resources are used in crop production, it is essential to use plant analysis to confirm nutrient uptake during the growing season.

In the southeast, plant analysis can be utilized to improve production of most field crops.  Examples include corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, peanuts, forages, and tobacco. The best information is provided when crops in each field are sampled year after year at planned intervals before fruiting. The first sample should be taken during exponential nutrient uptake while the second should be taken at early bloom. Subsequent samples can be taken during fruiting if necessary to further evaluate nutrient status, particularly if corrective action was necessary.

Production of more intensively grown crops including fruit, nut, vegetable and melon crops is improved with more intensive sampling. Most times these crops are produced in plastic culture systems in which plants can be fed weekly based on plant analysis results. More variables are controlled in this production system resulting in significantly improved production and quality. More and more, field crops are now being grown in these cultures to maximize production.

If plant analysis is used so successfully to improve production and quality by some producers, why is it not widely accepted by farmers as a necessary component of successful crop production?  Successful utilization of plant analysis in monitoring programs, just as with problem-solving, requires attention to detail. We recognize the value of a wine-maker in following scientific principals and acting based on a wealth of experience over numbers of production seasons in which many production variables and principals have been tested. Plant analysis is no different. The best agronomic advisor has experience required to maximize the opportunity.  Consistent sampling methods from crop to crop and year to year pay big dividends. The goal is to measure significant deviations from mean nutrient uptake. Over years, extremes in crop production should decline and overall yield and quality increase until genetic potential is realized.

With high production costs and increasing crop value, plant analysis should become an integral part of successful crop production over the next decade. Although problem solving has been accepted as a powerful tool, the real contribution of plant analysis will be in monitoring healthy crops to maximize genetic potential and respond to nutrient uptake problems before they impact yield and quality.

See more from this Division: S08 Nutrient Management & Soil & Plant Analysis
See more from this Session: Symposium--Plant Analysis for Assessing Potential Yield Limitations