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Plastic Strip Soil Tester
A new "plastic strip" soil tester being evaluated by soil scientists at the University of Saskatchewan holds promise as the most efficient way yet to test soil for nutrients.
The tester strips look like flattened crayons with clear plastic "windows" that contain an ion-exchange membrane. The membrane consists of a woven netting covered with molten plastic. When inserted into the ground, it absorbs nutrient ions in ' the soil just the way a plant root would. The plastic strip is then rinsed off with water and mailed to a lab. From the results, farmers can tell how much nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients are in the soil and available to crops.
"They mimic plant roots," says soil scientist Jeff Schoenau. "They're much easier to use than existing soil testing methods where you have to crisscross fields, take shovelfuls of dirt, mix the soil, dry it and bundle it up for testing at a laboratory.
"By pre-treating the strips we hope to expand their potential uses to include micronutrients such as zinc, copper, iron and manganese. They can also measure heavy metal contamination from nickel, lead, cadmium and chromium and detect the presence of 2,4-D and the pattern of spray drift at one-quarter of the recommended application rate." Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jeff Schoenau, University of Saskatchewan, Dept. of Soil Science, Saskatoon, Canada S7N OWO (ph 306 966-6823).

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1994 - Volume #18, Issue #4