Tissue Testing – Are the Benefits Worth the Cost?

So many factors go into producing a good crop, whether it’s fertilizer, the soil conditions, or the right weather. Tissue testing is another tool to help understand what you can’t necessarily see. Let’s look at what tissue testing is, how it works, and why adding it to your process is a benefit that outweighs the cost.

Crop Tissue Testing
You want to get to know everything about your crop, and tissue testing helps you get to know it even better. Routine testing is usually carried out mid-season to judge if the crop has the right supply of nutrients. For farmers who do routine tissue testing, it’s part of the normal monitoring system, not usually done in response to a suspected issue. Tissue testing is useful for checking the nitrogen, sulfur, and micronutrients like iron, zinc, manganese, boron, and copper, which are more difficult to determine in only a soil test.

A nutrient deficiency can lower the yield potential, but tissue sampling can catch it early when there’s still time to solve the problem… at least with some nutrients. Even though tissue testing looks only at nutrient levels, when farmers combine it with scouting fields, understanding nutrient relationships, and the willingness to try and fix issues that are found, growers can improve their crops.

Growers aren’t purposely under-fertilizing crops, so deficiencies can be a sign of a bigger problem. Drought, disease, soil compaction, insect and weed pressure can all contribute to a crop’s use of applied nutrients. Tissue testing can help navigate the path your crops are taking to harvest.

Let’s look at the potential benefits:

• Nutrient Management
Tissue testing provides exact information about a plant’s current nutrient status. Everyone’s trying to get the perfect mix of what crops need, and having information about plants down to the tissue level helps address specific deficiencies. This in turn helps avoid the cost of possibly using a fertilizer your crops don’t even need.

• Early Detection
Tissue testing can detect imbalances before they are visible. Identifying and correcting deficiencies at an early stage can improve plant health, leading to stronger and more resilient crops. The earlier problems are identified, the better a yield will be.

• Maximizing Crop Yields
When crops have access to the right balance of nutrients during important growth stages, they can reach their full potential. Tissue testing recommendations can help increase crop yields and improve the overall profitability of the harvest.

• Cost-Effective
Fertilizers are an unavoidable input cost when you’re aiming to grow the best crop. By identifying deficiencies through tissue testing, growers can apply nutrients required for optimal yield. This targeted approach minimizes the chance of using unnecessary products, which results in cost savings.

AgroLiquid’s tissue testing services are accompanied by personalized crop management recommendations. All of it is based on the specific nutrient deficiencies – or excesses – found in the tissue analysis. As a result, farmers can use targeted strategies to address the specific needs, which ultimately results in a better harvest.

How It Works
If you’re doing routine tissue testing, sampling needs to be done at the correct growth stages, from the right part of the plant. Farmers should take tissue samples from 20-30 plants in each field. Use paper bags instead of plastic to avoid mildew. During transportation, keep them in a place they will retain their moisture. Plus, give the plants time to absorb any supplied nutrients before trying to immediately measure their effect. Help the lab by providing all the requested information on the submission form, so they can help you interpret the nutrient levels for the crop type, growth stage, and plant part you sampled. Check out this explanation that further describes how to tissue test properly. Or this handy Plant Tissue Sampling & Analysis Guide from Midwest Labs.

While a tissue test is only a single point in a season, when taken at different times, you can record trends and explore multiple areas of health diagnostics.

At AgroLiquid, we want to help you grow the best crop possible, and we’re here to help. Talk to our agronomists about getting a tissue sample or starting a program.