There are several valuable tools such as Leaf analysis and soil tests which help farmers make better management decisions about plant nutrition. A soil and water analysis is carried out before planting, so that appropriate soil conditioning and crop planning can be done. In an already established plantation or orchard of high value crop such as Grapes, Date Palm, Fig, Apple, Citrus etc, leaf analysis is the most reliable guide for evaluating what manures and nutrients are to be given. In these existing orchards or plantations, soil tests alone may not give a good indication of tree nutrient uptake. Leaf analysis can be used for the following:
- Research problems associated with a nutrient shortage or overdose, and to prevent the development of a nutrient disorder in an orchard. For example, if NPK is given at the wrong time or in wrong proportion, growth of the tree continues late into the season and it fails to harden properly, leading to winter injury
- Find out which fertilizers are unnecessary or unneeded, so that the farmer can save money by using the most economical fertilizerprogram. Leaf analysis provides informationfor reducing the application of unneeded fertilizer. Due to increasing prices of fertilizers and farming inputs margins of farmers are being squeezed. Effective fertilizer programs are imperative in large commercial scale plantations to remain competitive in the domestic and export markets.
- Help growers and farmers maintain quality in fruit production. For example, too much nitrogen (N) can result in oversized, poorly-colored fruit with poor keeping quality.
- Detect toxicity of soil in existing orchard, or even when planning land purchase for starting a farm or orchard. Toxicity problem in hard or woody plants due to toxic ions of sodium, boron or chloride that are present in soil and water.