Tissue Sampling: Real-time Snapshot of Plant Health

Plant tissue sampling can provide a real-time snapshot of how your crop is responding to weather, soil moisture and nutrient availability conditions. Along with offering one more tool for monitoring plant health, this management may also just help with in-season fertility adjustments. 
“At this time of year, we’re looking at how we can proactively manage our approach to plant health,” says Agtegra Central Region Sales Manager Brett Harrison. “Tissue sampling is one of the tools in the box that complements soil sampling and scouting.”
Tissue sampling can help growers better understand the soil interactions and environmental factors that are driving that relationship between nutrition and yield, according to Harrison. “A tissue sample provides us with a live shot of what is going on in that plant,” says Harrison.
The results from a soil sample may show a profile with sufficient nutrients for optimum yields. However, crop health can still be negatively impacted if growing conditions are affecting nutrient uptake. “Taking a tissue sample gives us an accurate read of whether nutrients are being absorbed at the right time to be most beneficial,” says Harrison. “There could be some environmental factors limiting availability.”
For corn, a tissue sample at the V4 growth stage is the recommended, right-time strategy, says Harrison. “What we’re trying to do with tissue samples at this stage, is hit that sweet spot of timing before yield potential becomes affected,” he explains.
“If a tissue test verifies a micronutrient deficiency, we still have time to make some foliar nutrient adjustments,” says Harrison. “Timing is pivotal, with the opportunity for some precision input applications before potential yield losses occur. We can pinpoint and apply a foliar that is precise to what that plant has been diagnosed as needing.” 
It is also an approach that enhances input management, with exact nutrients applied in the right levels, according to test results. Being proactive with plant tissue diagnostics helps defend yield by staying “ahead of the game,” says Harrison. “Any time we wait until deficiency signs are visible, we’re missing yield opportunity, and input corrections are generally too late to provide return on investment.”
Besides in-season fertility adjustments, tissue sampling can also be beneficial in benchmarking your current nutrient management program. If other factors could be limiting optimum yields, like drainage or soil compaction, tissue data collected can begin to be the driver for assessing and changing current management.
Talk to your Agtegra agronomist now about the value tissue sampling may bring to your operation, says Harrison. “Whether it’s for in-season or its use as a fertility benchmark, there are so many positives to tissue testing,” he says. “In farming, there’s rarely one answer that solves everything. But collectively, there is power in adding plant tissue data as we fine-tune management going forward.”

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