Soil solution analysis will help growers to identify problems before they have any significant impact, and will enable them to modify nutrition and/or irrigation practices within the growing season and avert possible decline to their crops.
Benefits of soil solution analysis
Analysing soil solution provides a quick easy and economical way to measure salt and nutrient levels.
Soil solution analysis is also a useful environmental management tool to reduce nutrient leaching and to help manage solutes in water.
There have been huge advances in our ability to monitor soil water on-farm, but not so much in the monitoring of nutrients and soil salts.
Reasons for soil solute monitoring
There are three main reasons for soil solute monitoring:
Either through lack of water, or by trying to use as little water as possible, leaching below the root zone will be reduced—so in some areas, salt in the root zone will build up to levels that could damage crops.
Whilst water is being used more efficiently, it is not necessarily the same for nutrients and there is difficulty in monitoring the nutrient levels in the root zone.
The increase in use of recycled water and groundwater of lower quality can give an increase in the salt content and so poorer quality waters demand routine monitoring of the conditions in the root zone.
Soil solution analysis is also a valuable environmental tool because it can be used to detect excess nutrients moving below the plant’s root zone.
This allows for modification of the fertiliser and irrigation practices to reduce waste and minimise nutrients leaching into waterways.
Another monitoring tool
Soil solution analysis should be used in conjunction with other monitoring tools (visual symptoms, soil and leaf test, soil pH etc.) and with advice from an agronomist.
See this article in Tree Fruit March 2019