Vitality Newsletter – Summer 2022-23

With Summer on our doorstep, the agricultural community is getting busier again as new crops go in and early harvests begin.

Some things stay the same, though. And, unfortunately, the pressure on input prices hasn’t eased. This means adopting accurate science-based analyses to determine current plant, soil, and water nutrient status is more important than ever to prevent unnecessary costs.

We offer a variety of accredited nutrition tests for all agricultural enterprises. You’ll find full details in our updated Product & Price List – please get in touch if you haven’t received a copy.


What’s inside this edition?

  • Which test is best for grapevine nutritional analysis? 
  • Why everyone’s talking about our NU-8 test
  • Coming soon: our NEW lab information management system
  • How to choose between deep-N soil analysis tests
  • Do you grow potatoes? You should read this…
  • New EXCEL templates: issues and solutions
  • Christmas and New Year trading hours


Which test is best for grapevine nutritional analysis? 

Here in Australia, we have two recognised and commonly used methods for determining wine and table grape plant nutritional health status:

  • Sap analysis
  • Dry ash analysis

No matter which you choose, these tests are the easiest and most cost-effective way to understand your plant’s nutritional status and should be a routine assessment in the vineyard.

But which test is best?

The short answer is a sap analysis if you want a quick turnaround time or a current snapshot of a vine’s nutritional status.

Our NU-test sap analysis of the petiole can be done at any growing stage to investigate the current inputs and irrigation. Plus, we offer same-day sap analysis once your samples are received.

We also provide guidelines that:

  • Compare your results against over a dozen variety-specific wine grapes.
  • Differentiate between the three common table grapes (white, red, and black).
  • Include data for multiple growth stages, which means you can track the nutrition throughout the season and make smaller, more manageable changes as needed.

In comparison, a traditional dry ash analysis is typically taken only once in the season (at 80% capfall) to allow comparisons against published standards.

Since there are no available varietal standards and data related to a single growth stage, this data is most valuable for planning fert programs the following year. It may also help diagnose acute nutrition issues in the current season.

Lastly, we also offer analysis by either sap or dry tissue methods for grape berries at any growth stage. This test is ideal for determining crop mineral removal at harvest.


Why everyone’s talking about our NU-8 test

The newest addition to our analysis suite has already become an all-time favourite.

Clients are using this packaged option – that expands on our NU-7 with Silicon, Aluminium, sap Brix, and sap pH – in everything from high-value horticulture and tree crops to broadacre cropping.

Most crops provide ample sap for this extended analysis. But be aware that, in some cases, we may request additional sample quantity.

To ensure your sample size will suit our NU-8 test, please contact us before sampling and submitting your samples.


Coming soon: our NEW lab information management system

Because we’re committed to providing the best service possible, we’ve begun “constructing” a new Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).

This LIMS will help us work more efficiently, offer more flexibility, and save more time across our testing and reporting.

New features will include:

  • Improved reporting speed
  • A planned online sample submission process
  • A planned online portal for you to download results
  • Expanded reporting options, including previous sample history for more test results.


How to choose between deep-N soil analysis tests

We offer two options for soil nitrogen analysis:

  • fresh soil N-Check
  • dried soil KCl (mineral-N) analyses

Both provide critical information on available soil nitrogen at depth, but achieve this in different ways.

Which option will suit you better?

Our N-Check is routinely used in high-value horticulture and most other farming processes across the country.

It uses fresh soil (no pre-drying or milling required) and a mild extraction technique to free the loosely-bound nitrate and ammonium molecules. An N-Check also measures moisture percentage and a lab bulk density, which, alongside the stated depth interval, lets us report a kg/Ha result as Nitrate and Ammonium. 

The KCl-N extraction, which is a more common method, uses a moderately-aggressive potassium chloride reagent to liberate available plant N in both nitrate and ammonium form.

Importantly, the two methods are not interchangeable and will report differing results.

Choose the N-Check:

  • For a more dynamic option, varying slightly over a short time if the soil biology is active
  • When you can keep the soil sample cool after sampling and have it analysed promptly
  • For a fast turnaround, since we report back the same day we receive your sample

Choose the KCl-N test:

  • For a more stable figure, since the method is more aggressive
  • When you don’t have the flexibility to send off your soil sample right away
  • When you don’t need results right away, since we report within five working days


Do you grow potatoes? You should read this…

The latest edition of PotatoLink (previously Potatoes Australia) has two great articles worth highlighting.

Here’s why you should read both.

  • “The changing nutrition needs of a growing crop”, by Alisa Bryce, details the role various nutrients play in growing a profitable potato crop. Alisa drills down into timing and application methods to achieve optimal yield and quality.
  • “Making sense of soil test reports”, by Paulette Baumgartl, discusses the basics, such as how plants extract nutrients from the soil, what the numbers mean, and a detailed look at the key nutrients from a potato crop perspective. It concludes with a clever and concise table, focused on potatoes, of expected nutrient ranges.

You can read these articles here or in the latest edition of the PotatoLink magazine.


New EXCEL templates: issues and solutions

There have been significant changes to how Microsoft allows spreadsheets with macros to be sent by email, which is how we send out your results.

Unfortunately, this update has prevented the automatic enabling of macros. So you’re now required to manually save our reports to your desktop device, re-open, and enable macros. Once this is done, your reports will operate as expected.

Please let us know right away if you have any further issues operating our advanced reports.


Christmas and New Year trading hours

Our hard-working AgVita Analytical staff will take a short break over the festive season.

Lab testing days during this time are:

Friday 23rd Dec OPEN

Monday 26th Dec CLOSED
Tuesday 27th Dec CLOSED
Wednesday 28th Dec CLOSED
Thursday 29th Dec CLOSED
Friday 30st Dec OPEN for daily analyses (only NU-test, Aqua-Sure, N-Check)

Monday 2rd Jan CLOSED
Tuesday 3rd Jan CLOSED
Wednesday 4th Jan OPEN and back to full lab operations

Naturally, postal deliveries will be under extra pressure in the lead-up to the Christmas break. So please allow plenty of time to get your samples in for analysis.

If you’re not sure you can work in with these opening times, please call us for further options.