Carbon & Nitrogen: The Key to Growing & Maintaining Quality Crops


A web of factors contributes to a good crop, but the importance of carbon and nitrogen cannot be overstated. From soil to fertilizer to the plant matter itself, the mix of carbon and nitrogen play significant roles in the development and growth of the plant. Knowing the carbon and nitrogen levels in every aspect of your field can help you maintain quality control over the end result.

A good crop starts with good soil. Good soil has a healthy supply of nitrogen for plant development, but in a correct ratio to the carbon presence in the same soil. Testing soils for the levels of these nutrients allows growers to optimize the ratios beyond what nature provides.

Nitrogen deficiencies can be a common concern in arable soils, leading to the introduction of nitrogen-rich fertilizers. The proper levels of nitrogen will lead to vigorous growth and development in plants, often leading to an increase in plant yields. Determining the nitrogen levels of your fertilizer is the first step to growing a successful harvest.

Not all plants require the same levels of carbon and nitrogen, and even among the same type of plant, the nutritional health and uptake can vary. Monitoring plant growth by determining the concentrations of carbon and nitrogen in the plant tissue can serve as a diagnostic tool to head off any problems before they become serious.

Testing nitrogen levels throughout your soil, fertilizers, and crops with the use of an elemental determinator is a common method for managing the health of harvests. However, the need to measure carbon in addition to nitrogen has been growing rapidly due to regenerative agricultural practices. Depending on the growing season, some laboratories can see a surge in demand for not only nitrogen testing, but carbon testing as well. Utilizing an elemental determinator with capabilities to determine for both nitrogen and carbon can save valuable time in the lab. The 828 series from LECO offers combined nitrogen/carbon testing capabilities in sequence using the same combustion technique and sample. Rapid cycle times, extended reagent lifetimes, and industry-known reliability increase sample throughput to meet or exceed increased testing demands for soil, fertilizer, and plant samples. The CN828 is also capable of performing total carbon, organic carbon, and inorganic carbon applications using acid treated samples, adding to its versatility.

LECO application notes are a great resource for identifying instrument configurations, optimal sample preparation, parameters, and testing procedures for these types of samples using LECO equipment. Not only can you identify the typical results you can expect from these instruments, but you can also see the necessary steps taken to achieve these exact results.

To uncover the potential results for your type of agriculture samples, download the application notes provided below.


Carbon and Nitrogen in Soil