Benefits of Slice Tissue Sampling
Nutrient management is important for proper crop health and exceptional yields.
Over the years, I have seen more and more growers desiring to increase the efficiency of their existing farm by improving yields often because adding more acres to their operation is extremely competitive. Increasing yields requires a comprehensive system of crop production including optimal choices of seed, soil preparation, equipment, crop protection, and fertility. Slice™ is an important tool to optimize the fertility program on your farm.
TrueRec® is a soil analysis and fertilizer recommendation tool that should be the base of our fertility program. However, due to the interaction of soil characteristics such as nutrient concentrations, pH, or texture, crops may demonstrate nutrient deficiencies even when soil test suggest sufficient fertility. The Slice program helps identify deficiencies not yet visible in the leaf as well as diagnose soil interactions negatively impacting crop production.
By taking a series of samples from the same point in a field throughout the year, you can evaluate the efficacy of your soil fertility program and learn to make in season adjustments. In general, however, there are two main times to take Slice samples: Early Vegetative, and Early Reproductive. During the early vegetative stage, the root system is small making it difficult for the plant to intersect and take up some nutrients. This is extremely imperative for corn which is determining the number of kernel rows on the ear from early stages of V5 to V12. In the upper Midwest, it is common for early stage corn to be deficient in sulfur, zinc, or boron. These nutrients are largely immobile in the plant thus deficiencies will impact the youngest leaves and may require supplemental foliar applications of nutrients.
During early reproductive stages the crop is using large amounts of nutrients. If crops are low or deficient of any nutrients at this point, we are assured of decreased yields. Again, in the upper Midwest, corn is often low in Phosphorus, Potassium, or Sulfur. Slice results will show exactly what nutrients are required to be added. This can often easily be accomplished by adding it to the foliar fungicide treatment already planned.
Taking in-season Slice tissue samples is a very important part of growing a healthy crop. It provides us with valuable information we can use to immediately address the nutrient problems by adding the specific nutrient which is lacking. It also can help us evaluate the soil fertility program of each field. From the Slice reports, we may realize that more or different soil applied fertilizers needs to be used.
- Dr. Randy Simonson & Dr. Ryan Lee, AGRIntelligence Agronomists