How regular crop testing can help you reach your goals

It’s easy to credit a great harvest to the weather or the next miracle product on the market, but how do you really know what made the difference? And more importantly, how can you replicate it each year? Cubed Labs believes on-site diagnostics for pathogens, nutrients and soil health are the key. Together these tests can provide farms and the supply chain with new insights into the factors that drive yields and input costs. Below are 3 ways that on-site testing can help growers achieve their desired results year after year. 


1. Improving efficiency and quality 

Plant health and metabolism testing can save input costs and improve yields. Soil tests and tissue samples are a great starting point to know what’s happening with your crop but there are some great new in-field solutions reaching the market. 

  • Plant sap analysis supplies details on what is moving through the plant over time. If your crop allows for fertigation or foliar applications, you can stay ahead of nutrient deficiencies and imbalances. These tests offer highly precise data on nutrient flow but can be slower to get results as they must be done at a lab. 
  • On-site rapid tests for soil and plant nutrients are now available thanks to new advancements in sensor technology. These tests are desirable as they generate results in real-time allowing for larger sample collection and immediate actions. Cubed Labs is currently developing N-Sight, a plant nutrient testing system designed to track NPK levels as well as sugar, protein and lipids with a simple non-destructive scan.  

Testing and tracking plant health gives you the information to correct imbalances and ensure your plant’s nutrition is in the desired range regardless of the environmental factors. This means plants have all the nutrients they need to grow and there is minimal over-application of inputs. Additionally, when your sugar, protein and lipid levels are high, the taste and shelf life is improved. Just remember, regular testing is important to track trends and catch new issues before they appear visually. 

2. Avoiding pests and pathogens

Regular scouting for signs of disease is necessary for any farm or greenhouse. Adding on-site testing unlocks the ability to not only track disease pressure but to precisely apply treatments and track their effectiveness. Chemical resistance has become a challenge for many farms and is compounded by rising treatment costs. If you aren’t regularly testing and scouting post treatment, it is difficult to know if your money and efforts are working. 

  • Local labs and ag extension offices can help you test for pathogens using PCR and other precise testing methods. While these tests can be expensive, it costs much less than losing a crop to a sudden outbreak of a disease like botrytis or phytophthora.  
  • Check for pathogens on-site using one of several techniques. You can culture them on a petri dish or use a rapid test kit. There are several companies who offer lateral flow tests like our CRD Botrytis kit. These tests are designed for in-field use and usually only take 3 steps: collect the sample, mix with buffer solution and run the test. These styles of test are easy, fast and much cheaper than sending to a lab.  

As a farmer, pests and pathogens can be nightmarish but with regular testing and scouting, you can know well before things get out of hand and ensure that treatments are effective.  


3. Record Keeping

We recommend you keep records of anything you can actively manage on your type of farm. With more testing and scouting data, you will better understand what works best and what is costing you unnecessary time and money. You will get the best results if you track this data consistently and over a long enough period to find trends or recurring issues. 

  • Photo records are a fantastic way to track pests and pathogens. Make sure to label and organize your photos for reference in the future or use scouting software, like Cubed Labs Scout, with a simple photo collection, easy mapping, location services and customizable notes. Most farmers have seen it all but collecting photo examples can simplify the challenge of training new labor. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, especially with pests and pathogens. 
  • Reference the prior years’ data to figure out if your practices are progressing or if you need to make adjustments. Your reputation can mean the difference in demanding a high price at harvest or taking what you can get. Make sure the records you keep empower you to keep improving. 

Creating a system of testing and record-keeping is one of the best ways to reduce input and labor costs, maximize yield and set yourself apart from the competition. 

In summary, regular testing and scouting produces the data needed to make pro-active decisions. Between labs and on-site tools there are more ways than ever to easily track this data yourself. And then use it to make pro-active decisions to drive yields and exact inputs. Perhaps most important, it makes us better farmers with a foundation to consistently improve our growing practices. 

Interested in learning more or want to hear what Cubed Labs is all about? Schedule some time to talk with us!

Our own Brent Nichols would be happy to help – Click Here to schedule a meeting!