Analysis of the Major Elements in Orange Leaves Using NIR Spectroscopy

in HortScience
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  • 1 Yanco Agricultural Inst., Yanco, NSW 2703, Australia

Fertilizers are an essential input for sustained high yields and quality of orange fruit. Monitoring leaf nutrient levels is desirable and procedures for using leaf analysis to make fertilizer recommendations are well established. Wider adoption of leaf analysis would result if more-convenient sampling and analytical techniques were available. Analysis using near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIR) offers many advantages, including accuracy, low cost, and short turnaround time, which should appeal to citrus producers. NIR analysis is currently being used to decide the appropriate fertilizer applications for local cereal producers. Samples were collected from a cross-section (7%) of the orange-producing farms in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) of New South Wales (lat.35, long.146). This semi-arid, winter-dominant rainfall region is a major citrus-producing area in Australia. Samples comprised the 2nd and 3rd fully expanded leaves from non-fruiting 4-month-old flush shoots of sweet orange trees `Late Valencia' on P. trifoliata rootstock. The microwave-dried and ground samples were analyzed by the traditional techniques, and the samples were then used to develop and verify calibrations for N, P, and K. These calibrations determine nutrients in leaves with error (SEP) values that are close to the errors associated with traditional methods.

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