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Plant Tissue Analysis: What to Know About Sampling Strategy and Handling
Minnesota Ag Connection - 03/22/2023

Plant tissue analysis is a singular tool that we have within our toolbox that can be used with other tools to try to help us assess nutrient deficiencies within fields. With studies funded by the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC), we commonly use tissue analysis, not only as a way to assess performance of treatments within the field, but also as a way to collect data to look at evaluating currently used sufficiency guidelines for particular tissue analysis collected at diagnostic growth stages. There are a few things to consider when you're taking plant tissue samples.

Sampling strategy

First, timing of sampling is critical. We want to avoid sampling too early in the growing season or too late in the growing season. This is because too early in the growing season, plants typically have not taken up a large portion of their nutrients, and too late in the growing season, plants tend to redistribute nutrients within their tissues and tissue concentrations will decline. Second, make sure you're sampling the appropriate plant part for a particular crop species at the appropriate growth stage. Finally, it's important to diversify your sampling, sampling multiple areas within a given field.

If you're looking at comparative sampling, one thing to remember is sampling the good, the bad and the ugly. Sampling three areas of the field if you're looking at trying to identify what may be happening with visual nutrient deficiencies is very important, because this allows us to make a judgment based on comparing the results for individual nutrients within those different areas of the field. Avoid end rows or avoid areas of the field where the plants are dead or dying, because dead or dying plants are likely going to have very low nutrient concentrations and are not going to lead to worthwhile results within your given field.

Source: umn.edu

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