Agronomy / Crop Nutrition Recommendations


Soil Analysis is the foundation by which all our agronomic advice is derived. When combined with a range of analysis such as Quick soil, Water and SAP, it provides a complete picture of your crops nutrients – those locked up, those in reserve and those in circulation.


There are 4 main sections of a fertiliser program.  As I discuss each section, I will explain what nutritional aspect each section aims to cover and the most common methods of applying the fertiliser for that section.

1.      Pre Plant Application:

This section aims at correcting the soil pH and the major cations, eg. Calcium and magnesium.  Also, the use of any soil conditioners such as organic manures or gypsum products may be included in this section.  Usually, the pre plant recommendation will include products such as Ag Lime, Dolomite, Gypsum, Organic Manures etc.  These products are usually broad spread with industrial spinner or dropper spreaders.  For small scale operations however, small fertiliser spinners or fertiliser applicators can be used.  Waggle tale and auger applicators are not often practical as they can give problems, as most pre plant products contain some moisture.

If extra basal fertiliser is required, eg. Phosphorus, then there may be a recommendation for a broad spread application of a straight fertiliser such as single super phosphate.  These products can generally be applied via spinner and waggle tale spreaders or even auger applicators.

2.      Basal fertiliser application:

        This section aims at supplying the major nutritional requirements of the crop up until early growth.  Any major trace element deficiencies are corrected with the basal application where possible.  The fertiliser recommended is usually a total element blend with an N:P:K ratio that is suitable for your crop and soil type.  If required either a trace element fortified or a straight trace element compound eg. Zinc sulphate may be recommended.

            The basal fertiliser is usually applied using a conventional auger applicator with the fertiliser being applied directly onto the raised bed where the crop is to be planted.  The fertiliser should be lightly worked into the bed to reduce the risk of fertiliser burn to seedlings.

            For tree crops, the fertiliser requirements are usually given in grams per tree.  This fertiliser must be spread evenly under the tree canopy within the irrigated zone or along the tree line in a band 1-3m either side of the trunk.  Do not apply in one heap under the tree as this may kill your tree.

3.      Side dress or fertigation application:

            This section covers the nutritional requirements for the remainder of the growing period of the crop.  The areas of consideration are the nitrogen and potassium requirements.  The timing of the applications are given and should be adhered to as closely as possible.

            If a side dress application is recommended, then this would mean the application of solid fertiliser by means of either an auger or spinner applicator.

            If a fertigation recommendation is given, then this would include the product required and the amount required per week or fortnight, or as stated.  Fertigation applies to any fertiliser that is applied through an irrigation system (trickle, under-tree or overhead sprinklers etc.)

4.      Foliar applications:

            This section covers the use of any fertilisers that are applied directly to the leaf.  This mainly covers the requirements of trace elements and therefor the rates are usually quite low.  The recommendation will include a product and a rate per 100L or a rate per hectare.  This type of application is usually done via a spray boom or mister arrangement and the volumes of water should not exceed 1000L/Ha (typical 500-1000L/Ha).  Field crops are usually worked on a per hectare basis assuming low water volumes (50-200L/Ha).

            The majority of trace elements are only required in very small amounts and repeated applications of most trace elements can cause toxicity problems or even plant death.  It is advisable to consult one of our agronomists directly if you are unsure of the specific crop requirements or application techniques.

Alternatively a “Total Elemental Requirement, only” recommendation may be requested providing the total Units in kg/ha of each element that need to be applied, having taken into account. A very simplified explanation of the process adopted can be explained as follows: The “Balancing requirement” + “Nutrient removal” from an expected target yield minus “Laboratory result”. These recommendation do not suggest products or timing of application and are suited to situations where Agronomists want to develop their own product and timing.

The fertiliser program will cover the full nutritional requirement of your crop and will aim to apply the fertiliser at the time of the crops growth so that optimal production will be achieved.  To further improve the level of production, it is recommended that sap and Quicksoil (C2 - in the Analysis Request Form) analysis be carried out so that the fertiliser program can maximise production and fruit quality.

Tests include: COMPLETE soil, SUPER soil, SUGAR soil, BioSoil, SuperBio, QuickSoil, QuickN, Potting Mix Physical, Potting Mix Chemical, QuickMix



Water testing is usually done to establish the source of some nutritional anomaly in the plant root / soil relationship. Continuous use of a poor quality water source may have extremely detrimental effects on plant health and / or soil structure. The range of water analysis conducted by Hortus Technical Services allows for a complete picture to be established between the soil, plant and water relationship. From analysing the suitability of your irrigation water to maintaining nutrient balance in your hydroponic solution – Hortus’s AgPro water analysis is the test of choice for leading growers.

Tests include: BASIC Water, COMPLETE Water , COMPLETE Hydro, PRO Hydro, WATER Salinity, TOTAL Alkalinity and Environmental Runoff



SAP Test: The original SAP analysis developed in Australia and owned by Hortus Technical Services. Anything else is a compromise. Tests include: QUICK SAP, COMPLETE SAP, SUPER SAP

Dry Tissue Analysis: A Dry tissue analysis is the traditional plant analysis and is best used as part of an overall nutrient management program and fits in as the post harvest analysis of total cumulated nutrients during the crops season. Tests include: Dry Tissue


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