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Effective 7 Micronutrients Required by Plants

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

Key points

  • The term Micronutrients required by plants refers to the amount of a nutrient required for plant growth.

  • Micronutrients are seven elements that are required in very small amounts for crop growth: boron, copper, chlorine, zinc, iron, manganese, and molybdenum.

  • Zinc, manganese, boron, and iron are the micronutrients most commonly supplied by fertilization in Pakistan's major crops and production areas.

  • Micronutrient deficiencies can be seen visually on crops as well as tested for in soil and plant tissue.

  • The most reliable micronutrient soil tests are for boron, zinc, copper, and manganese. While useful, these tests are not as accurate as those for potassium, phosphorus, and soil pH.

  • For identifying many micronutrient problems, plant tissue analysis is more reliable than soil testing, and it can also be used to supplement soil test results.

  • Micronutrients are typically applied to the soil in a band at planting or foliar-applied, as these are the most common methods. To learn about The Vital Importance of Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc click here.


1. Micronutrients Are EssentialFor identifying many micronutrient problems, plant tissue analysis is more reliable than soil testing, and it can also be used to supplement soil test results.

  • Micronutrients are typically applied to the soil in a band at planting or foliar-applied, as these are the most common methods. To learn about The Vital Importance of Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc

1. Micronutrients Are Essential


Micronutrients are essential for plants as they are involved in enzyme activation, nutrient transport, DNA and protein synthesis, disease resistance, reproduction, and overall plant health. Maintaining appropriate micronutrient levels is crucial for optimal plant growth, development, and productivity. Plant growth and development may be slowed if any of these elements are deficient in the soil or are not properly balanced with other nutrients.


2. Soil Factors That Affect The Availability Of Micronutrients


Soil physical and chemical properties influence micronutrient availability and uptake:

• Soils with a low organic matter content (less than 2.0%)

• Clay-rich soils (fine texture) are less likely to be deficient in plant-available micronutrients. Sandy soils (tough texture) are more likely to be deficient in micronutrients.

• Soils with high levels of organic matter (more than 30% organic matter to a depth of 30 cm) frequently have low micronutrient availability.

• Soil temperature and moisture content are important considerations.

• Cool, wet soils reduce the rate and amount of micronutrients that crops can absorb.

• With the exception of molybdenum, the availability of micronutrients decreases as soil pH increases.

3. Sources Of Micronutrients Required By Plants in Soil


Effective 7 Micronutrients Required by Plants


3.1. Soil Minerals

Micronutrients can be naturally present in the soil as minerals, such as iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), and molybdenum (Mo).

Plants absorb these micronutrients through their root systems as they grow.


3.2. Organic Matter Decomposition

Effective 7 Micronutrients Required by Plants

Organic matter is a valuable secondary source of certain micronutrients. Most micronutrients are tightly bound in complex organic compounds and may not be easily accessed.

Plants can use it. However, as organic matter decomposes, it can be an important source of micronutrients because they are slowly released into a plant-available form. Micronutrients are released into the soil through the decomposition of organic matter, such as dead plant and animal material. Organic matter decomposition contributes to the availability of micronutrients for plant uptake.



3.3. Fertilizer Applications

Effective 7 Micronutrients Required by Plants


Fertilizers can be used to supplement micronutrient levels in the soil. Micronutrient fertilizers, either soluble salts or chelated compounds, are applied to the soil to ensure that plants receive adequate amounts of essential micronutrients for optimal growth and development.

Soluble salt formulations are easily dissolved in water and can be applied through irrigation systems or foliar sprays. Chelated compounds consist of micronutrients bound to organic molecules, enhancing their availability and uptake by plants. Micronutrient-enriched granules or powders are blended with other macronutrients and applied directly to the soil.

4. Detecting Micronutrient Deficiencies

Effective 7 Micronutrients Required by Plants

Detecting micronutrient deficiencies in plants requires careful observation and analysis. Visual symptoms such as chlorosis (yellowing), necrosis (cell death), stunted growth, or leaf discoloration can provide initial clues. Soil and plant tissue testing is commonly used to assess nutrient levels and identify deficiencies accurately. Leaf tissue analysis helps determine the specific nutrient lacking, while soil testing reveals nutrient availability in the growing medium. Combining these diagnostic tools enables farmers and gardeners to detect and address micronutrient deficiencies promptly.

5. Functions of Micronutrients

Copper

Cu2+



Sugar transport, cell division, and amino acid production all rely on it.

Chlorine

Cl–

It is used in turgor regulation, disease resistance, and photosynthesis responses.

Boron

H3BO3 H2BO3-

Enzyme components involved in photosynthesis

Manganese

Mn2+

The production of chloroplasts, an essential component in many plant reactions, stimulates enzymes.

Molybdenum

MoO42-

Participates in nitrogen metabolism and is required for legume nitrogen fixation.

Iron

Fe2+ Fe3+

Enzyme components required for chlorophyll synthesis and photosynthesis

Zinc

Zn2+

Component comprised multiple enzymes that are required for plant hormone control and auxin action.

6. Plant Analysis for Micronutrient Deficiency

Plant tissue analysis is more reliable than soil testing for identifying many micronutrient problems, and it can also be used to supplement soil test results. Tissue testing is particularly useful when reliable soil tests are unavailable. This method, however, cannot determine molybdenum or chlorine levels.

Plant analysis can be used in two ways: monitoring the crop’s micronutrient status and diagnosing a problem situation. Plant analysis can detect an existing or potential problem by quantifying the nutrient content of tissues before visual symptoms appear.

If in-season micronutrient deficiencies are suspected, plant samples should be collected as soon as possible; treatments, if necessary, should be administered as soon as possible. According to research, once a micronutrient deficiency is identified. You can also read about The Essential Role of Fatty Acids in Life.

Conclusion

Micronutrients required by plants are essential for their growth and development. Although they are needed in smaller quantities compared to macronutrients, micronutrients play critical roles in various physiological and biochemical processes. Deficiencies or imbalances in micronutrients can lead to significant negative impacts on plant growth, including stunted growth, reduced yield, and increased vulnerability to pests and diseases. Therefore, ensuring an adequate supply of micronutrients through proper soil management and, if necessary, applying micronutrient fertilizers is crucial for promoting optimal plant growth, vigor, and productivity.

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FAQ’s

How are micronutrients different from macronutrients?

Macronutrients are needed in larger amounts, while micronutrients are required in trace or smaller amounts. Macronutrients include elements like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are needed in much smaller quantities but are equally important for plant growth and development

How can micronutrient deficiencies in plants be addressed?

To address micronutrient deficiencies in plants, it is essential to provide the necessary micronutrients in balanced amounts. This can be achieved through soil amendments, such as applying micronutrient fertilizers or organic matter that contains micronutrients. Foliar sprays or seed treatments with micronutrient solutions can also be used to provide plants with the required nutrients. Additionally, proper soil management practices, including maintaining optimum pH levels and improving soil structure, can help enhance micronutrient availability to plants

Which elements are considered micronutrients for plants

The micronutrients required by plants include iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, and chlorine. These elements are essential for various physiological processes and are needed in small quantities for optimal plant growth. Each micronutrient plays a specific role in plant metabolism and function.



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