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Visual indicators of soil condition

Item 11 of 17
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Indicator 9 – stunted sub-clover plants

What do you see and when?

  • Stunted sub-clover plants, usually pale green in colour
  • Seen in autumn and winter.

What could this indicate?

  • Soil acidity and associated high soil aluminium
  • Soil borne diseases
  • Caused by four main pathogens (Phytophthora, Pythium, Aphanomyces, Rhizoctonia).
Pictured: Sub-clover with relatively healthy roots on left next to diseased plant with root branch pruning (commonly seen symptom). Photos Richard Simpson, CSIRO
Pictured: Extreme diseased roots with tap root pruning and brown lesions on roots. Photos Richard Simpson, CSIRO

What test can I do to confirm?

  • Soil test, with reference to pH and aluminium.
  • Test strips with lime. Note, lime responses are often not seen in the first year, especially if lime is not incorporated.
  • Inspect roots. Hostile soil conditions will result in stunted roots with less fine roots.
  • Diseased roots are commonly yellow in colour with reduced or pruned branches and may also have brown/ black lesions.
  • Test strips of foliar fungicide such as Phosphorus acid.
  • Predicta B to identify pathogen presence.

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