December 3, 2020

Soil analysis the key to fertiliser planning

inSITE soil analysis - an essential first step to putting in place a fertilizer strategy for the coming season.

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Kojonup Summit Area Manager Chloe Turner (pictured) says starting soil testing now in pasture paddocks, or once crop paddocks have been harvested allows early delivery of test results and recommendations which will allow growers to finalise their fertilizer and lime requirements in a timely manner.

When it comes to insightful soil analysis results, why, when and where samples are taken really comes down to what you are trying to achieve. This could be troubleshooting a specific area, monitoring soil fertility over the longer term, or a combination of both.

Either way, soil analysis is an essential first step to putting in place a comprehensive fertilizer strategy for the coming season. Soil testing can quickly identify the specific nutrients and other soil chemical properties that are constraining production and could limit yields in next season’s crop.

Planning, sampling and testing can start sooner than many growers might realise, and Summit Area Managers have already started soil testing in some regions. It may seem early, but considering the ever-increasing logistical demands on operations like liming and gypsum application, having the information on hand sooner rather than later can help streamline planning for next season. The knowledge gained will also help fine tune the fertiliser budget.

A SummitConnect trend map showing inSITE Soil Analysis results (soilpH at 10-20cm depth across all years) overlayed with NDVI data provided by DataFarming. The blue areas indicate higher NDVI readings and the red/orange areas show lower NDVI readings.

Summit’s Fertcare audited inSITE program measures and interprets a wide range of analytes including nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, nitrate, ammonium, copper, zinc, aluminium, in addition to pH, electrical conductivity and PBI (phosphorus buffering index). Other tests such as the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) can also be included on request.

As part of the Summit inSITE package, practical and impartial fertilizer recommendations are provided alongside the raw soil test data. These recommendations outline specific product selection advice to deliver the nutrients required to achieve target yields and are based on Area Managers experience of local conditions and field research data.

According to Kojonup based Area Manager, Chloe Turner, Summit recommendations are based around the four R’s of plant nutrition:

  • the Right fertilizer product;
  • applied at the Right rate;
  • at the Right time; and,
  • in the Right place.

“Growers can access their results through the SummitConnect online portal, which provides trend maps of historic results, giving a visual representation of how soil nutrients are tracking across different depths and soil types,” Chloe said.

“The platform also provides continuous in-season monitoring with access to NDVI imagery updated at least every five days, thanks to our partnership with DataFarming.

“These satellite generated images can be combined with other inSITE tools, like soil and plant testing, to provide growers with new ways of reviewing paddock performance.”

The incorporation of NDVI images can be particularly useful for growers and Summit Area Managers, as problem areas in paddocks can be quickly identified and followed up for further investigation by targeted inSITE soil and plant testing.

Read more about inSITE Soil Analysis and take a look at our soil sampling guide for further info.