Get Intentional About Tissue Sampling

  • Apr 29, 2019
Man collecting tissue sample and placing leaf in sample bag
Developing an economical fertility plan requires you to do some homework and collect data that supports your management choices. If you’re not making the right crop nutrition decisions, you could be steering your program in the wrong direction. Here’s how in-season tissue testing can help provide the information you need to make informed in-season input applications.
Soil sampling isn’t enough
Don’t get me wrong, soil sampling is an effective and necessary step to determine nutrient levels in the soil. But your soil isn’t directly producing yield. Your crops are. In addition to soil sampling, it’s crucial to take plant tissue samples to understand how well your crop is taking up those nutrients.
For example, you may find that even though nutrients are sufficient in your soil, they may have trouble getting into the plant. There could be a number of reasons for that, so it may take some investigation and agronomic support from your advisor to identify the problem.
Consider growth stage and application logistics
In order to use plant tissue sampling results to make in-season fertility decisions, you need to sample at the critical growth stages for each nutrient you are testing. You should also consider your equipment or nutrient application technique, which could affect in-season nutrient amendments.
Ideally in corn, I recommend tissue sampling at three growth stages: V5 to V8, V10 to V15 and VT to R2. If you aren’t able to get to fields to sample this frequently, know that for in-season management, samples from one of the first two recommended stages is essential. The first two samples could influence in-season application decisions, and the VT-R2 samples are used to assess nutrient levels as plants prepare for grain fill. Sampling three times during the season gives you reference points and allows you to start observing nutrient trends in the field. I encourage farmers to take tissue samples every season, because the weather can dictate how effective nutrient uptake is.
I also recommend using ag tech tools in conjunction with tissue sampling. For example, the R7® Field Forecasting Tool can help assess a crop’s development and can give a glimpse of what the future may hold based on how you’ve managed it and the growing conditions it has faced. Integrating a model can help predict what the most economical next step is to maximize return on investment.
Data is only as good as your samples and lab analysis 
Be sure to use a reputable lab for your sample analysis and follow its instructions for submitting a quality tissue sample. SureTech Labs specialize in agricultural sampling analysis, including soil and tissue testing. In addition to reliable data built on a robust data set, its reports are supported by local WinField® United agronomists who can provide customized interpretation and fertility recommendations.
Speak with your locally owned and operated WinField United retailer to learn more about the benefits of in-season tissue sampling.
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© 2019 WinField United. Crop performance is dependent on several factors beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. NutriSolutions®, R7®, SureTech™ and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.