Plant analysis is used as a tool to fine tune the nutrition of crops. The nutrient status of plants or parts of plants can be determined directly via laboratory analysis or estimated via in-field testing, while the overall health and nutrient status of a crop can be assessed via non-destructive sensing technologies, e.g. using colourimeters, Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) or other remote sensing technologies.
This guide only deals with laboratory based plant nutrient analyses, specifically dry matter analysis and sap analysis. These are analyses of specific plant parts sampled from an entire crop or distinct area(s) in a crop using standardised sampling and sample handling methods. The analyses can be used for leaves, petioles, fruit, tubers/rhizomes/bulbs or entire plants.
The purpose of this guide is to help growers and agronomists interpret conventional ‘chemical’ soil tests and identify soil chemical constraints for commercial vegetable production in Australia.
This resource can be used to guide site specific decisions on nutrition management. It does NOT provide prescriptive information on how much of a certain nutrient or fertiliser to apply to various vegetable crops. A recipe approach is not recommended because results in crop performance would be unreliable.
A soil test, combined with a visual soil assessment, and knowledge about paddock history and production plans, provides a sound basis for a nutrition program. A conventional soil test can provide some information about biological and physical soil properties. While a complete soil condition assessment covers physical, biological and chemical soil properties of the topsoil and subsoil.
Soil sampling and testing is usually done prior to planting a crop; specific in-crop testing can be useful e.g. testing for available nitrate and ammonium.
A soil test report is only as good as the care taken in sampling. Tools and equipment should be cleaned prior to collecting each sample. Completing labels and writing on bags or containers before going out to the field can save some time and confusion.
Read this fact sheet for guidance on how to take soil samples correctly and obtain reliable information on the nutrient status of your soil.
Testing for soil nitrate is important to manage nitrogen availability in vegetable crops to ensure optimal yield and quality.
This simple and easy to use guide has been developed to show how a quick nitrate test can be conducted in the field.
Greenhouse cucumbers can be one of the most productive of all crops. However, this productivity relies on accurate control of irrigation, plant nutrition and the growing environment, as well as effective management of pests and diseases. Only healthy plants can produce a high quality, marketable and profitable crop.
This manual provides basic guidance on growing greenhouse cucumbers. The focus is on modern, controlled environment production. However, much of the included information is relevant to all cucumber growers and, indeed, greenhouse producers more generally.
Salinity issues can appear in all major vegetable production areas; they can come and go depending on weather and changes in water quality. It can occur naturally or as a result of management practices.
Watch this interactive webinar and hear from industry experts on good salinity management practices on farm, salinity thresholds for vegetables, how salinity can be identified and measured, as well as appropriate EC ranges for soils and water.
Phosphorus (P) is a major element (macronutrient) that plays a number of important roles in plants, such as productivity, crop quality, increased root growth, and earlier crop maturity. It is necessary for proper cell division and formation of new cells. It's important that soil P is managed correctly for crop nutrition.
This fact sheet covers the common characteristics of soil P and its availability for uptake by plants such as pH, mobility and microbial activity, and provides practical management tips and tools in line with the ‘4Rs’ - right source at the right rate, right time, right place.
Salinity issues can appear in all major vegetable production areas; they can come and go depending on weather and changes in water quality. It can occur naturally or as a result of management practices.
Read this fact sheet to find out more about good salinity management practices on farm, salinity thresholds for vegetables, how salinity can be identified and measured, as well as appropriate EC ranges for soils and water.
A factsheet describing the benefits of recycled organics and how they can be used on vegetable farms.
A case study of a yield improvement after applying recycled organics on a Sydeny spinach farm.
Can calcium cyanamide (Ca(CN)2) fertiliser affect Pythium spp. and other soilborne diseases in carrots – findings of an on-farm demonstration
Calcium cyanamide (Ca(CN)2) fertiliser was tested for efficacy against Pythium sulcatum and P. violae in a grower led demonstration trial in a commercial carrot crop in Western Australia. The wax coated fertiliser was applied according to manufacturer’s instructions at 300 kg/ha and 500 kg/ha of fertiliser to one full length carrot bed each. An untreated bed adjacent to each treated bed was used as control. All standard commercial crop management inputs were applied consistently to treated and control beds. This included nitrogen fertilisers.
This report presents findings from a grower led, on-farm demonstration trial. Grower led pilot trials provide preliminary feasibility assessments of new practices. They can lead to on-farm adaptation of practices and/or replicated research trials to rigorously test assumptions made because of initial findings.
Calcium cyanamide Fertiliser, also known as nitrolime, has been used in Germany as a slow release nitrogen and calcium fertiliser with liming effect for over 100 years.
This fact sheet documents the findings from a grower-led demonstration where calcium cyanamide (CaCN2) was applied as a wax coated fertiliser prior to a carrot crop in Western Australia in 2017.
The series, produced by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, Applied Horticultural Research and VegNET NSW helps growers explore how to implement protected cropping on their growing operations.
Recycled organics (compost) is a commercially viable source of composted organic matter that does not contain animal manures, and is now being used successfully on vegetable farms in NSW.
Rob Niccol from Australian Native Landscapes and Dr Kelvin Montagu from AHR discuss the value proposition of recycled organics and explain how the compost can be successfully integrated into vegetable farming in Australia.
This project is supported by the NSW Environment Protection Authority as part of Waste Less, Recycle More, funded from the waste levy.
Hear from industry experts on how strip-till will save you fuel and time, increase soil organic matter, reduce erosion and compaction, and how fertilisers can be banded at multiple depths.
Listen to this podcast of the webinar recording with with Bruce Scott & Dr Doris Blaesing.
Soil acidification, the drop in soil pH, is due to several factors including leaching of nitrate nitrogen, nutrient uptake by crops and root exudates, build-up of soil organic matter and use of nitrogenous fertilisers containing ammonium and urea.
Choosing the right lime product and applying it at the correct rate is important in managing soil acidification and the subsequent impact on vegetable crops.
Read this useful fact sheet to find out more about the causes and effects of soil acidification, how liming increases soil pH differently depending on your soil type, different products, as well as managing paddock variability.
Phosphorus is one of the most common elements found in plants, usually ranking 8th after carbon, oxygen, hydrogen (which combined make up around 95% of plant dry matter), nitrogen, potassium, silicon and calcium. Unlike these other 7 elements, phosphorus is almost universally deficient in unfertilised soils in south-eastern parts of Australia.
Read this excellent concise literature review by Glenn Bailey to learn more about how phosphorus behaves in the soil, including fixing reactions, buffer capacity, available phosphorus, soil reserves, plant requirements and leaching.
This Fertigation Manual summarises the basic principles and practices of fertigation systems to ensure accurate and efficient crop nutrition, and was developed by Yara.
The manual focuses on the agronomic value of fertigation practice and provides best practice advice. Through adopting the practices outlined in the manual, growers and their advisors will be better placed to achieve optimum yields of high quality crops.
Watch this webinar recording to learn about the latest techniques in managing the soilborne disease Fusarium wilt in vegetable crops including solanaceous, legumes, cucurbits and sweet potatoes and to understand the latest ways of managing this disease to keep your plants in production for longer and improve yield and pack out rates.
This guide summarises useful information developed by the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Phase 1 projects from 2014-2017, and where to find it. These resources are relevant to all major vegetable growing regions in Australia. The resources developed includes fact sheets (51), case studies (12), videos and apps (36), e-newsletters (32 editions), as well as demonstration site information. The main topics covered by these resources include crop management, pest and disease management, and soil, nutrition and compost.
All the resources in this guide can be found on this project website.
Healthy soil and correct nutrition management is essential to a productive vegetable business and protecting the natural environment.
Watch this webinar recording to get the latest updates on managing vegetable soils and nutrition with a focus on nitrogen as the most mobile nutrient prone to losses via waterways and air, as well as the new industry-owned EnviroVeg program.
This presentation provides a great overview of the role of phosphorus in soil biology by Dr Cassandra Schefe, from Monash University and Schefe Consulting.
Calcium Cyanamide Fertiliser, also known as nitrolime, has been used in Germany as a slow release nitrogen and calcium fertiliser with liming e ect for over 100 years. It was introduced into Australia by the German manufacturer Alzchemie AG Germany (www.alzchem.com) in 1996.
Nitrogen (N) is an essential nutrient for plant growth, development and reproduction, so it’s important to ensure your crops have enough!
Read this fact sheet to find out more about the steps to providing the right amount of nitrogen, managing and monitoring N, and how nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) data can be interpreted.
This webinar with Nematode specialist Dr Sarah Collins from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA focused on the pest nematode, outlining the life cycles of the root-knot and root-lesion nematodes and how this can be used to target control measures.
The webinar also covered beneficial free living nematodes and how these can be managed and used as soil health indicators.
Members of the Soil Wealth and ICP team were recently interviewed for the Potatoes Australia magazine. The key message? Many of the soil health and plant protection practices relevant to vegetables, also apply to potatoes.
Click through to read the article.
The Vegetable SOILpak manual was developed by NSW Department of Primary Industries to provide soil information relevant to irrigated vegetable production in New South Wales. The manual aims to provide decision support for landholders and advisers, helping to maintain or improve productivity over both the short and long term.
The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects provide R&D extension services, products and communication on improved soil management and plant health to the Australian vegetable industry.
From 2014 to 2017, RMCG and AHR have delivered the projects for Horticulture Innovation Australia. Phase 1 of the projects have now been completed. So, what’s been achieved?
A webinar on nutrition management and plant disease presented by Dr Len Tesoriero as part of the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection projects.
Anhydrous ammonia has long been used as a preplant and side dressing fertiliser in the cotton and grain industries. It results in a high retention of nitrogen in the soil, reduced leaching of nitrates through the soil and yield increases in various crops. However, it needs to be treated with care as it can cause injury to farm workers.
Anhydrous ammonia has beneficial effects on soil microbes, nitrifying bacteria and worms. It is more suited to row crops rather than babyleaf crops, where even distribution nitrogen in the soil is required.
This webinar series aims to provide evidence based knowledge to make good decisions on site-specific nutrient management of vegetable crops using soil and plant testing and the 4R principles (right source, right rate, right time and right place).
The third webinar in the series focuses on developing a fertilizer program and features well-respected specialists Bruce Scott (E.E. Muir & Sons) and Dr Doris Blaesing.
Soil health refers to the fitness of the soil to achieve its potential, within natural or managed limitations, and be productive under
the intended land use. Healthy soils have physical, chemical and biological properties that sustain biological functioning, maintain environmental quality and promote plant, animal and human health.
This practical fact sheet outlines the importance of healthy soil, its characteristics and how to get there, as well as the main soil health issues and potential solutions.
Nitrogen is a key input into vegetable production. Applying high levels of nitrogen, either as fertiliser, compost or amendments is necessary to achieve high yields, but it can also result in nitrous oxide gas being released into the atmosphere.
This fact sheet provides useful information on the loss of plant available nitrogen, reducing nitrous oxide emissions, nitrogen management (the 4 R's) and keeping informed through soil testing.
Leaf and sap testing for managing vegetable crop nutrition with Bruce Scott, Doris Blaesing and Gordon Rogers
View the leaf and sap testing for vegetable crops webinar broadcast on the 27th September 2016 by Bruce Scott, Doris Blaesing and Gordon Rogers from the Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection team and E.E. Muir & Sons.
Crop sensing is allowing the adoption of variable rate management to address yield variability, improve management of inputs and maximise productivity.
The Soils in Schools program started in 2015, the UN declared International Year of Soils. It is an initiative of Soil Science Australia.
This programs vision is to communicate and educate school children on the relevance of soils in everyday life and to encourage a wider interest in our soil resources.
Doris Blaesing and Gordon Rogers from the Soil Wealth team, presented a webinar on how to get the most from soil testing for vegetable crops.
If you missed this popular webinar, you can view the recording and download the presentation from here.
The Soil Wealth and ICP projects have managed a demonstration site at Kalfresh since early 2015.
The results from the demonstration site confirm that by following four principles in managing vegetable cropping soils, both soil condition and financial returns can be maximised. It’s a true win:win situation.
Plant nutrients are commonly split into two categories:
• Major elements (macronutrients) that are required in relatively large quantities by plants, and
• Trace elements (micronutrients) that are essential for plant growth, but are only required in small amounts.
All elements must be available in a form that is useable by the plant, and in balanced concentrations that allow optimum plant growth.
Download this great summary of what the plant nutrients do, and how they need to be applied for the plant to make best use of your investment in fertilisers.
This summary provides Australian vegetable growers with an understanding of available and emerging irrigation practices and technologies that could improve profitability and encourage the uptake of more efficient water practices.
Silicon is an available nutrient for all plants grown in soil, with its content in plant tissue ranging from 0.1%-10%. Although it is not currently classified as an essential nutrient for plant growth, recent research suggests that silicon may have a significant role to play in plant health.
Read this fact sheet to learn more about the benefits of silicon on crop health and subsequent production, including improved nutrient availability, plant resistance to pest and disease pressure, and improved resilience to environmental stress. Guidance on how to choose a silicon product is also provided.
Transplant shock is a check in growth that can occur when seedlings are transplanted from the seedling tray into the field. Stresses due to root damage, changed environment or water stress can all contribute to transplant shock. Significant transplant shock can result in poor plant stands and a lower percentage cut of good quality lettuce.
This fact sheet provides guidance on the ideal age of transplants and tips for avoiding transplant shock.
Maintaining or increasing soil carbon makes good sense – for the environment and for soil productivity. While climate scientists talk about soil carbon, you will know it better as soil organic matter. And the productivity benefits of soil organic matter are legendary:
• Providing a slow release supply of nutrients
• Improving cation exchange capacity and nutrient- holding ability
• Buffering against soil acidity
• Improving soil structure and aggregate stability
• Improving soil water holding capacity
• Reducing erosion risk.
This fact sheet summaries the opportunities and management options for mitigating or sequestering soil carbon in vegetable soils.
One of the key issues with babyleaf spinach is how to deliver this popular leafy vegetable to consumers in good condition. For this to happen, growers must first produce high quality spinach, and this quality must be maintained throughout the supply chain until it’s used by the consumer.
This fact sheet explores the three most significant pre-harvest factors that affect spinach post-harvest quality and shelf-life. These are growth rate of crop, variety, and minimum night temperature during the growing period.
Lettuce is an important horticultural crop in Australia, with an annual production over 160 million tonnes and a total gross value of $140 million. Lettuce is regularly purchased by 80% of consumers in Australia.
The key quality attributes for whole and fresh-cut lettuce are moisture loss, shrivelling, colour (browning, bleaching of the green colour), off-odours, and off-flavour formation, breakdown and microbiological contamination.
This fact sheet will assist you to address these key quality attributes through important pre-harvest crop management such as developing a crop planting schedule, mineral nutrition, tip burn management, deficit irrigation, floating row covers and light.
The Soil Wealth and ICP project team set up a “cover crop” trial there as a real farm demonstration to help growers adopt sustainable practices, and, importantly, improve their bottom line. The trial, near Cowra, in the Central West region of NSW.
All the cover crops resulted in higher yields than the fallow control. The highest yields in this trial were obtained with clover (+48%) and field peas (+36%), but ryegrass alone and compost were also effective in increasing yields compared to bare fallow.
Check out how precision farming techniques are being adapted to vegetable production.
Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a gas which under certain soil and environmental conditions is produced from both soil mineralised and fertiliser nitrogen (N) by de-nitrifying bacteria. For the farmer this represents a loss of soil fertility and/or loss of applied fertiliser. Additionally, when in the atmosphere N2O is a potent greenhouse gas. This is why it is important to minimise the loss of valuable soil and fertiliser N to the atmosphere through these processes. This BMP fact sheet sets out how this can be achieved by farmers producing vegetables.
There has been a renewed focus to better understand the role and function of soil carbon in Australian agricultural situations. This summary provides a snapshot of current knowledge and signposts the key messages and reports coming from recent research and investigations across Australia. It includes:
• An introduction to soil carbon and its role
• An overview of recent research and implications for land management practices
• Useful links to key information sources.
Hear from Tasmanian lettuce grower Colin Houston about the exciting demonstrations being run on his new farm aimed at improving profitability and sustainability.
This 5 minute video clip describes how nitrous oxide emissions from soils and nitrogen fertiliser can be managed using right source (product), rate, time and place principles.
A seven minute overview of soil carbon in agriculture.
A summary of the importance of soil, soil science and good soil management from a Victorian perspective.
This presentation by Patrick Brown from the University of California provides an outline of the principles of plant nutrition including nutrient function and mobility in plants, soil and leaf testing, nutrient management, and plant nutrient uptake and response to fertiliser.
This book by Gary Zimmer, a farmer in the United States, provides support for farmers who would like to reduce chemical inputs and use natural processes within their farming systems.
This publication from ATTRA (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service) in the United States provides information on improving disease suppression within soil.
Soil salinity can cause salt burn, affect crop quality and reduce yield. Incorrect soil nitrate levels affect crop growth, quality and yield and excessive nitrogen applications are wasteful and can result in contamination of water tables and waterways. It is essential that soil salinity and nitrate levels be monitored throughout the crop cycle to ensure optimum crop growth.
Soil solution extraction and analysis can inexpensively monitor both salt and nitrate throughout the growing season to ensure optimum crop growth.
To find out more please refer to this fact sheet developed by Steven Falivene from the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
This website contains a series of documents to guide you through the successful prodution of lettuce.
This website contains a series of documents to guide you through the successful prodution of Brassica crops.
This website contains a series of documents to guide you through the successful prodution of sweet corn.
This fact sheet covers the Sources of nitrogen on farm, Fertiliser use - what to do and what to avoid and a Quick guide to the main nitrogen sources in fertilisers.