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Defeat Deficiencies by using tissue test results to generate customized foliar recommendations. Read on to learn more about the importance of tissue testing and foliar feeding.

Tissue Testing: Identify Nutrient Levels



Plant tissue analysis complements a proven soil testing plan and helps identify ways to use nutrients more efficiently. Unseen nutrient imbalances or toxicities can be identified, as well. It also measures the efficacy of fertilization and nutrient programs, as well as the levels of nutrients such as, copper, iron, sulfur and others not observed in routine soil tests.

Plant nutrient levels vary depending on the stage of maturity, the part(s) sampled, hybrid or variety and environmental conditions. Sampling earlier in the season identifies deficiencies in time to make corrective nutrient applications, if needed, to help reach yield goals and manage economic risks.

Plant tissue analysis is a proven diagnostic tool to help compare nutritional variances between normal and abnormal sections of fields. No matter the crop, plant tissue analysis is worthwhile to help determine nutrient needs. As crop values continue to rise, tools such as this and soil sampling are essential to fiscal and yield success.



Plant tissue analysis, put simply, is taking a snapshot of the nutrient concentration of a plant part at some point in time. Plant tissue analysis has two primary uses. One is diagnostic. The other is monitoring.

With monitoring, growers aim to get a trend over time and use that trend provided by tissue concentrations of nutrients to evaluate overall health. The diagnostic or troubleshooting approach determines if there’s a problem or not. If there is, the analysis is the beginning of the reasoning to take corrective action.

Standard values, often established by universities, for each crop and each region guide the diagnosis. These values state that at maturity stage “A,” plant tissue nutrient levels should be at stage “A”, as well. If tissue levels don’t meet those values, it could be that something in the soil supply has been depleted. If it’s early enough in the season, it’s possible more nutrients could be applied in a foliar application.



Once you start taking samples, it’s critical to get the right plant part at the right growth stage. A general rule of thumb is to use the most recently matured, fully developed leaf for more mature plants. For young plants, you can generally use the entire plant. For high-value crops, the petiole is used.

The most recent mature leaf (MRML) is the first fully expanded leaf below the growing point. It is neither dull from age nor shiny green from immaturity. For some crops the MRML is a compound leaf. For example, the MRML on soybeans and strawberries is a trifoliate compound leaf, or three leaflets comprising one leaf. The petiole is the slender stalk attaching the leaf to the stem.

For a lab to get a solid analysis, 15 to 30 leaves, or roughly a quart of sample material is needed. Shipping is important. Don’t pack them too tightly or take too long to ship to the lab, especially in warmer months. Get samples to the lab as quickly as possible. If you’re taking the samples yourself, check with your lab to be certain of the most appropriate shipping method. Always use a shipper that guarantees delivery by a certain time.

This information is comprised of excerpts from The Fertilizer Institute. For the full article visit http://www.nutrientstewardship.com/implement-4rs/article/plant-tissue-analysis-tells-story.


Foliar Feeding: Correct Nutrient Deficiencies

Foliar application of The Andersons’ specialty products is a highly efficient and timely method of applying plant nutrients. In addition to the starter application, foliar fertilizer helps keep the plant strong to resist environmental stresses, increase nutrient levels in the plant and stimulate growth.

DECREASES STRESS DURING REPRODUCTIVE STAGES: Use a foliar application of liquid fertilizer before reproductive growth stages to compensate for stress due to adverse growing conditions or poor nutrient availability.

EXTENDS PLANT FUNCTIONS: When the normal functions of a fully mature plant begin to decline, a foliar application will help continue the movement of nutrients.

IMPROVES CROP YIELDS: An early application of liquid fertilizer can make a good crop even better by stimulating vigorous regrowth and maximizing critical growth stages.

STIMULATES ABSORPTION OF SOIL NUTRIENTS: The use of liquid foliar fertilizer enhances metabolism within the plant, and it also creates a greater pull of nutrients from the soil.


Q: How does foliar feeding work? I thought plants only absorbed nutrients through the roots.

A: Roots take up the bulk of the nutrients, but small amounts can enter through the leaves and stems. This was proven at Michigan State University through the use of radioisotopes nearly 50 years ago. The efficiency of uptake through the leaf is high compared to the root, but the actual quantity taken in is small in comparison.

Q: How does foliar feeding help increase yields?

A: When foliar liquid fertilizer is sprayed on the leaves it causes the plant’s metabolism to speed up. This causes the plant to “demand” more water and nutrients from the root system. It is this increase in water and nutrients sent by the roots that provides the potential for higher yield. Often the increase in yield removes more nutrients than were contained in the foliar application. The yield increase comes from soil-supplied nutrients, but it is the foliar liquid fertilizer that causes it to happen.

Q: Is foliar-applied liquid fertilizer expensive?

A: No. At a minimal soybean application rate, it will take a yield increase of only about one bushel per acre to pay for the fertilizer.

Q: Does foliar feeding require an extra trip?

A: No. In most applications foliar liquid fertilizer replaces part of the water carrier in the chemical spray solution. More growers are realizing that ‘piggybacking’ foliar liquid fertilizer with spray-applied chemicals is more efficient and more profitable.

Q: How can I get more information?

A: Call us at The Andersons. We will connect you with one of our experienced agronomists or sales representatives.

CropCoach™: Customize Nutrient Solutions

CropCoach is Your Online Crop Nutrition Strategist™, allowing users to defeat deficiencies with in-season foliar recommendations or develop a season long game plan that provides crops with a sound fertility program.

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