Guideline Index

Chapter 9: Interpreting Soil and Tissue Tests

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Find out what soil and plant tissue tests are available; which tests to ask for; how to interpret a soil test report; and how to identify nutrient deficiencies and soil imbalances.

9.1 Introduction

Soil and plant tissue tests help farmers and service providers to make more informed, cost-effective fertiliser decisions. Soil tests are a valuable tool for identifying the macronutrient status of farm soils, and to provide information for soil amendments to address issues such as sodicity and acidity. Plant tissue testing is the preferred method for diagnosing trace element toxicities, deficiencies, and imbalances for plants and as an aid to determine some animal health issues.

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9.2 Interpreting soil tests

Find out what should be included in a standard soil test report for a dairy farm, and a range of other tests that can be done. Find out the methods used to analyse a range of physical and chemical soil properties, and how to interpret the soil test results. Know what the results mean for crop and pasture production, and the options available to improve soil fertility.

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9.3 Interpreting plant tissue tests

Plant tissue testing is the preferred method for diagnosing trace element toxicities, deficiencies, and imbalances for plants and animal health problems. Tissue tests are also used to confirm that plants are accessing the nutrients that have been applied and to confirm a diagnosis made by other means. Plant tissue testing is also very useful to corroborate animal nutritional or deficiency problems such as Cu, Co and Se.

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9.4 Summary

Soil and tissue tests provide valuable information about soil properties that affect plant growth. After soil and tissue test results come back from the lab, it is important to determine what they actually mean and act upon the advice. The interpretation of results from soil and tissue tests will help to make more informed, cost-effective fertiliser decisions.

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9.5 References

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