Plant Testing with ARL

We have a range of plant analysis suites that will provide information essential to measuring and managing the health and productivity of your pasture, crops and animals.

Why plant test?

Plant testing provides a guide on the critical nutrient concentrations required for maximum production and optimal crop quality for individual crop types at particular stages of growth.

  • More reliable than soil testing for determining trace element nutritional status and fertiliser requirements of annual and perennial crops.
  • Determines the mineral concentrations of animal feed, particularly herbage, helping ensure maximum animal production.
  • Diagnosis of plant health problems, including trace element deficiencies and nutrient toxicities.
  • To monitor the effectiveness of your fertiliser programme.

With all testing services, we provide the most current crop by crop interpretative information available to turn your test results into information that can be readily used in farm management decisions.

Plant analysis suites

Standard pasture analysis
Provides analysis on the major nutrients and trace elements required for plant growth and animal health.

Clover/brassica/legume analysis
Provides analysis on the major nutrients and trace elements required for clover, brassica or legume plant growth.

Comprehensive pasture analysis
Provides analysis on the major nutrients and trace elements required for plant growth and animal health. The sample is split into two with a Standard Pasture Analysis carried out on one half of the sample and a Clover Analysis on the clover portion of the other half of the sample. ARL will separate the clover from the sample for the clover analysis. This ensures the complete picture for optimum mixed pasture performance.

Basic plant analysis
Provides analysis on the major nutrients and trace elements required for arable and horticultural crops.

Plant petiole analysis
For grapes at flowering and potatoes during early season development (50 days after emergence) petiole analysis is recommended. Refer to our plant sampling guide for the appropriate sampling time or growth stage and the quantity of plant petioles to collect.

Specific crop package
We also offers specific crop packages such as analysis for grape berry juice or whole fruit analysis of apple and kiwifruit. Contact ARL for more information.

Extra tests

ARL provides a wide range of extra tests designed to meet your needs. Refer to the ARL price list for the full range of tests available. For specific crops refer to our plant sampling guide for recommended extra tests. Some of the more commonly requested extra tests are:

Iodine - Iodine is essential for animal growth and development. Plant tissue iodine testing is useful in the same way that other trace element plant testing is used.

Chloride - This test should be used on plants which have a higher chloride requirement such as Kiwifruit or when chloride levels can indicate plant health problems such as in avocados.

If testing because a plant or crop is poorly performing, it is a good idea to take two representative samples, one from each of the good and poor performing areas, and send for analysis.

What plant part do I sample?

Because the critical nutrient concentrations for different crop types are specific to parts of the plant and stage of growth, it is important to adhere to the plant sampling guide (below). Failure to do so may lead to misleading results and advice.

How do I sample for plant analysis?

Ensure your hands are clean or if using shears or scissors ensure these are also clean, as rust or soil can contaminate samples. Recent applications of fertiliser, foliar feeds and certain pesticides may affect the results.

  • When sampling take plant tissue from a representative number of different sampling sites or plants - more than 15 is desirable.
  • For pasture samples walk along your chosen transects (lines) taking a handful of pasture every 10-20 metres.
  • Each sample should be made up of 15 or more handfuls of pasture.
  • Provide enough sample by filling the sample bag provided (equivalent to 2 litres for a mixed pasture or ½ litre for a clover only sample).
  • Take the sample at animal grazing height.

For arable and horticultural crops refer to our plant sampling guide. In the case of fruit trees and vines it is recommended to mark the trees or vines that you have sampled from, so that you can return to these same trees for future sampling.

  • Clearly identify the sample and the block the sample came from on the bag and submission form.
  • Squeeze the air out of the sample bag before sealing it tightly.

Fill in the submission form and put the samples plus the submission form in the pre-paid courier bag and send them to ARL immediately or store in refrigerator (any delay exposes the sample to excess heat and moisture and can affect the analysis).

Plant testing documentation

Feed and plant testing price list
Feed and plant testing sampling guide
Feed and plant testing submission form