Are you driving fertility on one axle?

By |  June 20, 2017 0 Comments

When time and budgets are tight, a superintendent might be tempted to choose between soil testing and more involved plant tissue analysis. Don’t.

“Soil testing and plant analyses are like tandem axles under vehicles and trailers,” says Cliff Snyder, nitrogen program director for the International Plant Nutrition Institute. “You may be able to manage getting by with one for a short time, but to avoid the risk of damage and lost performance, it is best to rely on both.”

Forced to make a choice on a golf course, however, he would lean toward tissue testing. “Tissue analysis may be more valuable except for fairways,” Snyder says.

He recommends pulling samples by following any lab’s or university’s tissue testing procedures, mentioning the University of Georgia’s and University of Florida’s websites as good sources of information. “Follow their guidelines on how to pull tissue samples,” he says.

Cliff Snyder

Cliff Snyder

Getting a clean sample is key on a golf course. “You can sample all during the active turf-growing season,” Snyder says, cautioning, “When you collect a sample, don’t contaminate it with soil or foreign matter.”

Pulling a sample from a mower basket can result in samples with dirt, tree leaves, or traces of chemicals. “Anything like that can confound the test results,” he says. On turfgrass, it matters little whether stems or leaves are intermixed – in most good turf, the majority will be leaf material, anyway.

“Don’t let hidden hunger act like a cancer,” Snyder advises. “Use both soil testing and plant tissue analyses to evaluate and fine-tune your nutrition management.”

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