Abiotic Disorders

This includes anything that is not caused by a living organism such as an insect or a plant pathogen. Abiotic problems can be caused by nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, soil pH, soil salinity, temperature, irrigation, soil compaction, and/or plant genetics.

If a nutrient-related issue is suspected, a plant tissue test along with a current soil test is recommended in order to help accurrately diagnose the cause of the issue.

UK does not currently offer plant tissue testing, but there are several laboratories across the state that do provide this service. Contact your county extension agent or the lab directly for assistance with the proper sampling procedure.

Soil sampling

Soil sampling and testing is important for growers to establish a baseline of soil nutrients and pH. After establishing a baseline, it is important to periodically check on your soil by sampling it and getting it analyzed annually. This will help you determine what needs to be added to your soil before planting your next crop and will help avoid excessive applications that could be unnecessary expenses and not helpful to your crop. Additions to the soil may include fertilizer such as calcium nitrate, animal manure, or compost. You may also need to add lime in order to raise your soil’s pH. Lime should be incorporated into the soil several months before planting. To lower the soil pH, elemental sulfur may be used. It also must be incorporated months prior to planting for the best results. When growing vegetable crops, it may be most useful to collect soil samples in the fall to help prepare for spring planting. Make sure to get a representative sample from your field or garden. This means sampling where you are going to plant your crop and collect multiple samples and combine them. Collect 15 to 20 small subsamples and mix them together. For vegetables, collect from the soil surface to 8 inches deep. Avoid unusual areas such as low spots with poor drainage or near gravel roads.

See the NRCS guide below for more detailed instruction regarding soil sampling.

Soil tests can be submitted to the UK Division of Regulatory Services (http://soils.rs.uky.edu/) through your county cooperative extension office. Contact your ANR or Horticulture extension agent for assistance on the proper way to collect a soil sample.