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Boron: A Micronutrient that Requires Micromanagement

April 23, 2014 by Curt Woolfolk

Boron: A Micronutrient that Requires Micromanagement

Boron is a micronutrient critical to the growth and health of all crops. It is a component of plant cell walls and reproductive structures. Boron can be found in soil solution, adsorbed to soil surfaces, organic matter, and is part of soil mineralogy. Boron is a mobile nutrient, meaning that it is prone to movement within the soil.

Because it is required in small amounts, delivering boron to a crop with even distribution is a challenge. Traditionally, small quantities of boron fertilizer are blended with P and K products and spread in a single application. This results in uneven applications and “hot spots” of boron within the soil that are prone to leaching. The best way to deliver boron nutrition is to add a soil applied fertilizer that contains small quantities of boron and spreads the nutrient evenly across the field.

Moisture and soil type play a significant role in nutrient uptake of boron. Boron moves with water movement in the soil (mass flow), so coarse textured soils allow for higher rates of movement. Spring applications are crucial for these types of soils and recommended for other soil types as well. Split applications of fertilizer for crops such as alfalfa (high demand for potassium and boron) may also improve yield.

Crop rotations may be beneficial for nutrient uptake and utilization of boron. Crops with a deeper root structure have the ability to pull mobile nutrients, such as boron, from deeper in the rooting zone. Grasses, such as corn and wheat, have shallower fibrous root systems, while the taproot systems of alfalfa and sugar beets go much deeper.

Granular fertilizers, such as Aspire® premium potash, offer more precise and uniform nutrient application. The even distribution of boron allows for higher nutrient uptake and reduced risk of leaching. Aspire with Boron ensures that boron is available during critical periods of uptake throughout the growing season, enhancing both yield and crop quality.

Curt Woolfolk is a Senior Agronomist for The Mosaic Company. His role involves developing the North American agronomic strategy to support Mosaic's commercial team. This strategy results in the latest technical information and product knowledge that creates distinctive value for Mosaic Premium Products and delivers consistent agronomic solutions to Mosaic customers. His main responsibility is to educate and train internal and external sales forces about Mosaic premium products and balanced crop nutrition. Curt has led Mosaic's on-farm trial program as a Product Development specialist, has over 12 years of experience in precision agriculture, and extensive farming experience. Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in soil science and Master of Science degree in soil fertility from Oklahoma State University. Curt is a member of NAICC and ASA-SSSA professional societies.