Testing soils and water is often the basis for managing any crop or pasture. No new information there!
We offer testing that is related to water in soils. What does this mean? Great question!
How much water does your crop have access to? What is your yield potential based on how much water your crop can drink?
One of the biggest questions we all have about managing both irrigated and dryland crops is "how big is the bucket of water my crop has access to?"
This is perhaps the quintessential question that all crop and pasture management stems from, yet its a question many cannot answer.
There are a couple of simple methods that can be used to find this out and start gathering the information you need to jump to the next level of crop and pasture management.
Soil Cores and crop stress points
This is a method whereby samples of undisturbed soil are taken from the paddock and put through a physical water extraction process to directly measure how much water is in the soil.
During this process we determine how much water is available at specific stress points to allow us to directly measure the size of the bucket of water available to any crop for each crop growth stage.
This information becomes critical when trying to increase farm profitability because as we all know, water drives the whole growth abilities of any plant. The days of not getting a return from a crop or spending money on fertiliser the crop can't use are over if this type of information is used well.
With the help of soil moisture monitoring, we use this information to inform what our yield potentials are, how much fertiliser can physically be used by the crop or pasture, and when the timing of application should be to ensure there is enough water left in the soil for the plant to uptake the fertiliser we are spreading.
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Soil and Water tests
Example only. Figures are derived from soil water retention curves and represent the water held in a soil at field capacity (DUL)
Grain size analysis
Tests for grain size analysis can only be performed on some soil types and achieve an accurate result of how much water the soil holds in each of the crop growth stages. Soils with high strength or structure, or that are classed as self mulching clays are not usually measured with this type of analysis.
The result is the same as using the soil cores as above. We are looking for the amount of water held in the soil at each of the crops growth stages.
This could be the test of choice for sandy or loam soils.
We offer a water testing suite that measures the major elements of water.
A laboratory test is used by way of a machine called a spectrophotometer to get precise figures on what nutrition is in the water.
Often the nutrition (particularly nitrogen) in irrigation water is not considered when working a fertiliser budget, however there is often significant levels of NPK and especially nitrogen in our irrigation water. Budgeting for this fertiliser already in irrigation water can account for a significant proportion of plant nutritional requirements. If its already being put on the crop, don't buy it in!!
Even dryland crops where water tables are very close to the paddock surface can access the nutrition in groundwater, accounting for a good portion of crop requirements.
> Salinity (tds, mg/L and EC)
> Nitrogen NO3 & NH4 (mg/L)
> Phosphorus (mg/L)
> Potassium (mg/L)
These tests can be done in-field or in the lab
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