Data Logging Using Plant Analysis
Repeated plant analyses during the growth cycle of a plant or from one season to another can profile changes which are occurring with time as a result of applied fertilizer treatments. These analyses can provide a guide for corrective treatments. For long seasoned crops, analyses made at the critical periods can be effectively used to prescribe immediate corrective treatments. Supplemental treatments can be scheduled based on a series of analyses. For example, when using a series of leaf analyses for greenhouse tomatoes, the need for supplemental fertilizer treatments can be determined in order to maintain a high level of productivity over a long growing season. For the pecan grower, yearly leaf analysis results should be plotted versus time to determine what effect lime and fertilizer treatments are having on leaf composition. Up-or-downward trends can be observed and adjustments in yearly lime and fertilizer treatments made before deficiencies or excesses develop which would reduce yield or quality.
Similar examples can be given for other crops or cropping sequences. Such analyses and the maintenance of leaf analysis result logs are invaluable to any farmer. Since most of the more common nutrient deficiencies experienced by many farmers are the result of long term effects of improper lime and fertilizer practices, developing deficiencies or excesses can be seen before they appear as visual symptoms, or reduce yield and quality.
Plant analysis can be used as the basis for supplimental application of N, particularly when there is a suspected or anticipated N deficiency. Analyze crops which are particularly sensitive to excess N such as cotton, forage grasses, fruits, and vegetables prior to the application of additional N. Keying N treatments to actual need can save the farmer unneeded fertilizer and reduce potential excesses.
Therefore, in order to obtain the maximum value from a plant analysis, establish a regular schedule of plant analyses and keep careful records to provide a usable history of test results.