ENSPEC’s primary utilisation of the laboratory is for in vitro screening of antagonistic Trichoderma strains against variouswood decay fungi; primarily Phellinus noxius. This study, in collaboration with Prof Dr. Francis Schwarze and Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA), has led to the discovery and isolation of several highly antagonistic Trichoderma strains that can be used as plant growth stimulants and bio-control agents for lethal effect or suppression of wood decay fungi in tropical environments. Trichoderma are opportunistic avirulent plant symbionts that are typically fast growing, and can have mycoparasitic effects on other fungi. Further research is now being conducted to discover and isolate antagonistic Trichoderma strains for use in other areas of Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
In association with the above research, ENSPEC now offers a full fungi identification service. ENSPEC’s fully trained staff can conduct the field collection on behalf of the client, provided that adequate site details are provided. Alternatively, clients can collect samples of their fungi for submission to the ENSPEC laboratory, provided that some basic field collection procedures are followed.
Clients can then choose to have their samples identified by their spores and morphological features, and/or sequenced for their DNA, depending on the level of accuracy required for the client’s needs.
Once the wood decaying fungus has been identified, ENSPEC can provide a Trichoderma species to treat it. ENSPEC has a growing Trichoderma specimen collection; all specimens have been laboratory tested and proven to have a lethal or suppressive effect on various wood decay fungi species.
Plant tissue testing is the preferred method for diagnosing toxicities, deficiencies and imbalances for plants. Plant tissue tests determine the chemical constituents present in plant material (macro and micro nutrients), and any foreign chemicals, elements and compounds that are present. The outcomes and interpretation of the plant tissue tests will assist ENSPEC clients to make more informed and cost-effective decisions.
Soil biological, physical and chemical processes are interconnected and contribute to and affect plant health, productivity and disease susceptibility. The biological, physical and chemical properties of the soil are dependent on the management practices used, site history, and particularly the management of organic matter i.e. carbon. Changes that are made to the chemical and physical environment in soils will influence the biological processes and subsequently the contribution they make to soil fertility.
ENSPEC can facilitate complete soil analysis, from on-site testing and laboratory testing to post test analysis of soil conditioning.
ENSPEC’s range of soil testing equipment allows for instant on-site soil assessments of pH, electrical conductivity, moisture, structure, infiltration and compaction. These tests can provide immediate results on-site, however to improve the accuracy of the testing, ENSPEC’s laboratory can facilitate a comprehensive analysis of soil chemistry, biology and its physical properties.
Appropriate cation exchange capacity (cation balance) is essential to the development of good soil structure, biology and nutrient availability. Knowing this information facilitates the management of healthy soils.
All plants have their own particular nutrient requirements for optimum growth, production and longevity. These nutrients are obtained from the soil, and the condition of the soil and the quantities of certain elements, compounds and biological matter determine what nutrients are actively available for plant utilisation.
Soil comprises a diversity of organisms that assist critical soil and plant functions. Soil organisms reconstitute organic matter making nutrients available for plant uptake and to other organisms. The reconstitution of organic matter facilitates soil permeability and its ability to retain and make nutrients available. Having the right diversity and balance of soil organisms is critical to maintaining healthy plants, thus knowing the biological constituents of a soil and the levels of biological activity will facilitate better plant management.
The complete soil analysis provides comprehensive information pertaining to the structure, nutrients and biology present within a site. Using the results obtained from the above tests, ENSPEC can provide recommendations for soil and site improvements. Such recommendations may include modifying land management practices, organic fertigation, mechanical decompaction, aeration, infiltration and where appropriate, the use of compost teas.
For the application of specific soil constituents (i.e. biological matter, nutrients) ENSPEC has a mobile fertigation batching plant that can be easily set up near.