Do you know your micronutrients?

Micronutrients or trace elements may be only required by crops in tiny quantities but are nevertheless, essential for healthy growth. A micronutrient deficiency will not only limit growth but can also reduce the efficiency of your macronutrient fertilisers.

As with all nutrients, availability is influenced by many factors: soil structure, overall nutrient levels, pH, temperature and microbial activity, as well as their physical proximity to the plant’s root system. It can be difficult to address a micronutrient deficiency during the growing season, so the best approach is to use your field history and knowledge of the soil to identify probable deficiencies and then use the appropriate supplements to pre-empt potential problems.

Let’s remind ourselves of the six essential micronutrients, which crops they are most likely to affect and the factors influencing their availability.

Boron (B)

Boron plays a vital role in the transportation of sugars, cell development and differentiation, flowering and seed development. Deficiency can affect oilseed rape, sugar beet, brassica crops and carrots and is also becoming more of a factor in cereals. Availability can be restricted in sandy, chalk soils with high pH, high calcium levels and high rainfall, as it can be easily leached from the soil. Care must be taken to treat deficiencies effectively, due to the Boron’s low mobility in the plant.

Copper (Cu)

Copper is important for several enzyme systems and the process of photosynthesis. Deficiencies are most common in cereals, where it can affect ear formation and grain size. Availability is reduced by high pH and high levels of organic matter. It is prone to leaching in sandy soils and is relatively immobile in the plant.

Iron (Fe)

Iron is required for the formation of chlorophyll, the movement of oxygen in legume roots, and reactions involving cell division and growth. Deficiencies are rare in UK field crops but can occur in fruit crops grown on calcareous soils. Availability is affected by high pH values, poor drainage and high levels of Mn, Zn, Cu and P in the soil solution.

Manganese (Mn)

Manganese is essential for effective energy transfer, nitrogen-use and photosynthesis and is also relatively immobile in the plant. It is the most commonly deficient micronutrient in UK soils with cereals, oilseed rape, sugar beet and peas being particularly susceptible. Availability is adversely affected by high pH, in peaty or over-limed soils, high organic matter, in loose seedbeds and compacted soil where there is poor root to soil contact or rooting is restricted.

Molybdenum (Mo)

Molybdenum promotes nitrate reduction and efficient nitrogen use and is also important for nitrogen fixation by rhizobia bacteria in legumes. The most common manifestation of a molybdenum deficiency is ‘whiptail’ in cauliflowers but other brassicas, including oilseed rape, are also sensitive to deficiencies. It is the only micronutrient deficiency more commonly associated with acid soils.

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc is important for enzyme functions including starch formation and is the constituent of some growth hormones. It is becoming increasingly important for UK cereal crops, in high-risk situations including high pH, sands, peats, heavy clay and clay loam soils. High calcium and phosphate levels also reduce availability.

The Ilex range of concentrated foliar nutrients provides highly available sources of micronutrients to prevent deficiencies.

Click below to find out more
Mn Plus – 36% Manganese
Mn Cu Plus – 30% Manganese, 2% Copper
Foliar Boost – 4% Magnesium with 12% Manganese, 0.56% Copper and 1.5% Zinc
Boron 15% – Call 01673 885175 for further information

To boost availability and supply of key micronutrients, Ilex foliar phosphite formulations are tailored to specific crops:
PK MAXX+ – combines macro and secondary nutrients with Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum and Zinc. PK MAXX+ is designed for use on potatoes and field vegetables but is also widely used on cereals.
Beet Raiser – multi-nutrient package for sugar beet crops including Boron, Molybdenum and Zinc
Maniphos – Zero Nitrogen supplement for pulse crops with Magnesium, Sulphur and Manganese
OilSeed Raiser – tailored calcium-based liquid including Boron & Molybdenum

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