Plant Analysis as an Applied Science

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Plant analysis is the tool for quantitative monitoring and diagnosing of the nutritional status of plants and herbs, especially in case crops of commercial importance. Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are not analyzed routinely because they come from air or water and virtually never limit plant growth. Chlorine is normally sufficient under field conditions, but it may become excessive in saline soils. It is usually analyzed in special cases only. Similarly, molybdenum deficiency or toxicity is rare, and this element is not analyzed routinely. Thus, plant analysis usually refers to analysis of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and boron (B). Aluminum (Al) and sodium (Na) are sometimes included even though they are not essential elements. Aluminum can be toxic in acid soils, and sodium improves the quality of some crops such as beets and celery. Plant analysis is distinguished from tissue testing in that it is a quantitative laboratory analysis; whereas tissue testing refers to semi-quantitative "quick" tests of plant sap carried out in the field for trouble-shooting purposes. Plant analysis is unique from other crop diagnostic tests in that it gives an overall picture of the nutrient levels within the plant at the time the sample was taken. Its use is based on the principle that the nutrient level present is a result of all factors affecting the growth of the plant. Scientific tests and comprehensive elemental analysis has provided the much needed information to the farmers, orchardists and foresters, for understanding the major issues with crop success. Nutrient management of crops is achievable by diagnosing existing problems with the crop, as a means of trouble shooting on the basis of previous scientific evaluations. This can be very helpful to predict the crop quality and optimize the crop production and yield on the basis of nutritional, growth and environmental factors. In addition, the mobility and uptake of major nutrients by the root system is also dependent on the specific nutrient distribution and the growth requirement of the crop. This book is concentrated not only on the studies of classical total chemical element to dry matter concentration, but also towards the new genetic tools for physiological characterization of plants crops. Interest in plant analysis as a crop management tool has been stimulated in recent years by increased use of scouting programs and crop consultants and by a higher level of sophistication among farmers themselves. In addition, narrowing profit margins and the continual pursuit of higher yields has spurred this interest. The information provided through plant analysis helps farmers with decisions on fertilizer effectiveness, the need for additional nutrients, and planning fertilizer programs for future years. If used properly, plant analysis can be an important guide to efficient crop production because it provides a nutritional profile of the growing plant.

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Delve Publishing
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