Although boron (B) is considered the most deficient micronutrient in the world after zinc, dynamics of B use in plants and soils have continued to perplex farmers, agronomists and researchers for decades.
The objective of a recently published study conducted by University of Illinois plant physiologist Dr. Fred Below and recent doctoral graduates Dr. Ross Bender and Dr. Jason Haegele was to identify which secondary macronutrients and micronutrients demand attention in a new era of soybean production.
Even with the increased focus on micronutrients and their importance to crop health and yields, basing a solid nutrient management plan on macronutrients is still critical. While macronutrients and micronutrients certainly work best together to create a balanced approach to crop nutrition, the key difference between them is the amount needed for proper plant growth.
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.
One of the micronutrients that is essential for crop health also happens to be one of the most deficient in the majority of fields: boron.
Raising a productive crop depends greatly on the nutrients a plant is able to access during its life cycle. Many factors influence the availability of those nutrients, including soil pH. For instance, as soil pH increases, the availability of phosphorus (P), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe) decreases. Although variety selection can help manage iron deficiency in soybeans, fertilizer application is still needed to address the P and Zn deficiencies prevalent in high-pH soils.
In farming, little things can add up to make a big difference. This is certainly the case when it comes to balanced crop nutrition.
As yield levels increase, so does the demand for nutrients not often considered as standard practice. This means that a high-yield system requires more attention be paid to micronutrients. In fact, is it possible that we are pushing the limits of our soil as we push yields to the next level.
Rapid adoption of rootworm-resistant corn hybrids in the past five years has helped many farmers take corn yields to the next level. While corn varieties with insect resistance traits have eased insect control, it's important to remember that the investment in high-tech seed must be paired with other state-of-the-art agronomic practices, including a strong soil fertility program and balanced crop nutrition.
Many soils require adding several essential nutrients to alleviate plant deficiencies. Farmers may opt to select a combination of single-nutrient fertilizers or apply a fertilizer that combines several nutrients into each particle. These combination fertilizers (compound or complex) can offer advantages of convenience in the field, economic savings and ease in meeting crop nutritional needs.
Vegetable plant roots absorb nutrients through two distinctly different sequential processes. First, the nutrients must move from the soil to the surface of the plant roots. Second, the nutrients must be able to cross from the outside to the inside of the plant roots. Once the nutrient gets inside the plant, the nutrients can move upward to the leaves and developing vegetable.
Boron (B) is a micronutrient critical to the growth and health of all crops. It is a component of plant cell walls and reproductive structures. It is a mobile nutrient within the soil, meaning it is prone to movement within the soil. Because it is required in small amounts, it is important to deliver B as evenly as possible across the field. Traditional fertilizer blends containing B struggle to achieve uniform nutrient distribution. Despite the need for this critical nutrient, B is the second most widespread micronutrient deficiency problem worldwide after zinc.