In-season tissue sampling helps inform retailers and farmers about nutrient deficiencies. In 2017, Winfield United analyzed over 25,000 tissue samples and compared the results to samples taken in 2016.
Across the country, Winfield United saw increased deficiencies in nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, zinc, manganese and boron in corn. For example, nearly 82 percent of sampled corn plants were short on zinc.
In soybeans, the nationwide results saw an increased deficiency in copper, potassium and manganese. Sixty-five percent of those soybeans sampled were lacking in copper.
However, nutrient deficiencies can differ by location.
Andrew Lambert, a crop advisor for Centra Sota cooperative in Minnesota, shares his insight and encourages individual on-farm sampling. In his area of Minnesota, out of all the samples taken in corn, almost 90 percent came back deficient or responsive in zinc. Boron and sulfur were also deficient. Lambert says the zinc deficiency came as no surprise.
“We don’t have a high amount of it in our soil,” says Lambert. “If they were using the product, then their odds were better but those who didn’t use liquid zinc were almost always deficient.”
In the soybean samples Lambert helped collect, 98 to 99 percent came back deficient in copper. Many of the samples were also low in potassium and phosphorus.
According to Lambert, much of the copper deficiency was due to the time the sample was taken, which was during the rapid growth stage of the plant when the plant is naturally deficient in nutrients. To help this, he says farmers can spray foliar products.
Although viewing other samples from your region can be useful, Lambert says to ensure you are achieving the best yields possible, conduct your own on-farm tissue sampling.
“Bringing it down to a local level is so important,” says Lambert. “Anything a farmer can know more about his situation to make him more efficient helps.”
Through using a tissue sampling program, Lambert and his team helped a farmer earn more bushels with a change in nutrient management. The farmer’s corn had shown deficient and responsive in zinc in previous soil and tissue samples. Through a precision ag program at Centra Sota, the farmer tried using zinc in-furrow. They tracked out the weight-to-yield and return on bushels in the hopper to the specific product and found that it was successful.
“The product still came back responsive at some points so now we plan on upping the amount to see if we get further ROI,” says Lambert.
This return on investment is a major driver in many farmers’ decision to do tissue sampling on their farms.
According to Winfield United, environmental conditions and production practices can change plant health needs from year-to-year. This means farmers must evaluate and adjust their fertilization needs each season to ensure they are being as efficient as possible.
According to Lambert, one of the best ways to do this is through tissue sampling.
“When you start tissue sampling, you’re able to take a snapshot of your plants hunger and health in the growing season to change or add to your plant nutrition program,” says Lambert.