Guideline Index

Chapter 8: Assessing Soil Nutrients

8.1 Introduction

Before applying any fertiliser, farmers need to assess which nutrients and how much of each is to be applied to correct deficiencies or to balance what has been removed by the farming system. Many factors must be taken into account before making the final decision. These will be more fully discussed in Chapters 9 through to 15.

However, several tests and observations can be very useful, and even essential, in assisting to make more informed fertiliser decisions. An assessment of pasture nutrient requirements should include a program of soil testing and plant tissue analysis. Other tools, such as paddock history, visual paddock indicators and fertiliser test strips, are also useful indicators of nutrient requirements of pastures.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Correctly sample a paddock for soil testing.
  • Correctly obtain a sample for plant tissue analysis.
  • Assess possible nutrient deficiencies in conjunction with the visual appearance of the pasture.
  • Set up fertiliser test strips to assist in identifying the fertility status of your pasture.