Pasture & Feed Testing


pasture analysis for plant and animal health

Feed analysis is performed using Near Infrared (NIR) technology to determine the nutritive value of a pasture, conserved fodder or feed product. The dry matter (DM), digestibility (DDM), energy (ME), crude protein (CP), fibre (ADF & NDF), ash and fat data obtained is invaluable in assessing the feed value of produce and matching it to animal needs.Using NIR, the whole process can be completed in 3 days providing a rapid turnaround time (TAT). This applies to forages (fresh cut pasture, hay & silage), grains (oats, barley, wheat, triticale, sorghum & brewers grains) and feed products (pellets). The NIR may not be calibrated for some feeds such as mixed concentrates, grain legumes and byproducts. A longer TAT of 14 days is required to perform wet chemical analysis on these atypical feeds.

Pasture analysis involves chemical testing of plant tissue (usually leaves or whole tops) to determine the current nutrient status of a pasture. This serves as both an indicator of plant health and the availability of nutrients to plant and animal.

Plant tissue testing used correctly is a highly cost effective and strategic monitoring tool for maintaining plant health and optimising crop, pasture and animal production.

Leaf Tissue Testing is valuable for:

· Trouble shooting – diagnosing and correcting existing nutrient problems.

· Monitoring pasture nutrient status for optimal plant and animal production

· Ensuring balanced plant nutrient levels for top produce quality and palatability.

· Predicting plant nutrient deficiencies or excesses during the growing season before they cause production loss.

· Understanding interactions between the soil and plant nutrient uptake.

· Formulating foliar spray programs to address nutrient deficiencies and imbalances in the pastures and preventing metabolic problems in grazing livestock.

The concentration of each element in the analysed tissue is compared with established species-specific desired ranges for healthy, productive pastures or crops. A report is given with the analysis which clearly defines both the nutrient deficiencies and/or excesses that may be limiting animal or plant health and yield plus recommendations to correct these.

There are many independent references available for plant tissue analysis, based on decades of research, which detail acceptable ranges of nutrients for all crops and pastures. This extensive data base provides assurance to the producer in the diagnosis of a crop’s nutrient status. In contrast, sap testing has limited independent reference range data available and so it is more difficult to accurately assess the nutrient status of pastures or the recommendations of commercial suppliers.

Leaf Tissue Tests vs Soil Tests

Leaf tissue tests gives a “snapshot” of plant nutrient status at the time of testing. This differs from a soil test which predicts the soil’s ability to supply nutrients over one or more seasons. As a result a plant and soil test from the same area will often show contrasting patterns of deficiency and/or excess.

Remember that leaf analysis only reflects nutrients available to the leaves and those which the soil mineral balance allows the plant to extract.

An excess of any element in the soil will always reduce the uptake of others. For example, high soil magnesium will reduce the plant uptake of potassium and boron even if both elements are plentiful in the soil.

The Golden Rule is “never formulate a soil fertiliser program based on a leaf test without information from a soil test as well”.

Leaf tissue results can be used to formulate foliar fertiliser programs that will feed the plant directly and bypass any soil imbalances.

Therefore, always use a soil analysis for fertilising the soil and leaf analysis for the prompt correction of plant deficiencies with foliars.

APAL Pasture Tissue Test

All APAL samples are tested for:

Nitrogen, Nitrate-N, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Chlorides, Boron, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc Cobalt and Molybdenum.

Cobalt and Molybdenum are always included in pasture tests

Selenium is offered as an extra test for pasture samples.

Please contact us if you have any questions about whether to include Selenium.

APAL Pasture Report Advantages

APAL is an independent plant testing laboratory with no ties to any fertiliser company. We give you an honest assessment of your crop’s nutrient status without external commercial considerations.

Pasture and Feed analysis results are presented in an easy to understand report with each element graphed according to desired levels for the plant tested and livestock in the case of pastures. These ranges come from a number of independent references and are available on request. The results are displayed with a target level based on the upper (75%) limit of the acceptable range for each element.

APAL also offers independent recommendations as part of our pasture and feed testing service. Our consultants have a wealth of experience working with livestock and pastures throughout Australia and overseas, and provide reports that you can understand and trust. The recommendations include interpretation of the test results and what action can be taken to optimise pasture and animal production and health based on the tested feed source.

Extended consulting services are also available via email or on-farm, so call us anytime to discuss our terms and charges.

Examples of Pasture and Feed Test Reports