Micronutrient Availability

Leading cause of Micro nutrient deficiency in plants

Current research is quite clear: it’s the plants inability to uptake micro nutrients through the roots.

But why? And how do we get off the carousel and grow better plants.  To get a better picture we need to look at some simple soil chemistry and micro nutrient fertilizer technology of today.

A simple answer to the question of why plants have an inability to uptake micro nutrients is soil pH.

We know ideal soil pH is 6.5 and this pH allows for the availability of all the essential nutrients balanced for proper plant growth.

As our soil pH deviates from this ideal, we come face to face with the micro nutrient uptake problem. 

Less than ideal soil pH equates to either Acidic or Alkaline soil.  We lime the acidic soils and acidify the alkaline soils.  These processes are expensive and short lived as all soils want to return to their natural state.  With that door closed, agricultural scientists have looked to supplementing crops with direct applications of micro-nutrient fertilizers.

Current technology offers us multiple forms of micro nutrients to apply to our soil and plants, either inorganic or organic materials.

The inorganic materials can be further divided into water-soluble and non-soluble compounds.  We have inorganic options: sulfates, chloride, nitrate, oxide.  While these options are the cheapest per pound of material they are also the least efficient and in some cases a waste of money all together when you consider the amounts needed and the binding these nutrients to the soil (remember the pH issue!). 

Organic materials are either synthetic chelate or natural organic complexes made of:  EDTA, DTPA, EDDHA, NTA, and HEDTA.  Chelates are ring-type chemical structures formed around a polyvalent metal. Chelated micronutrients are of interest because they tend to remain soluble longer when applied to the soil, giving time for the plant to take up the desired nutrient. However, these materials are expensive and have a tendency to leach from the root zone.

With current technologies seemingly hitting their limits, how do we get off the carousel and grow better plants and feed the hungry planet? 

Fortunately, latest innovations from the world of nano-particle science are providing answers. VFRC-IFDC research provides us hope in this regard. Please click here for more information

Nanoscale foliar sprays are already making an appearance in the market place and first results are very encouraging.

Due to a much larger surface area coverage, they are less bulky and therefore easy to handle and transport. Application is also convenient as they can be tank mixed with other products.

 

 

Liquid Carbon Pathway

The process where carbon dioxide is converted to soil humus has been occurring for millions of years, sequestering atmospheric carbon in soil as humified organic carbon restores natural fertility cycles, increase water-use efficiency, improves farm productivity, and provides resilience to climatic variation. Biological carbon capture and storage begins with photosynthesis, a natural process where green leaves transform sunlight energy, carbon dioxide and water into biochemical energy.

Carbon fixed during photosynthesis can be stored in a more a permanent form, such as wood (in trees or shrubs), or as humus (in soil). Humification is a process where carbon compounds are joined together into more complex and stable molecules in the soil from the exuded plant sugars. The formation of humus requires a vast array of soil microbes, including mycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen fixing bacteria and phosphorus solubilising bacteria, all of which obtain their energy from plant sugars (liquid carbon). Under appropriate conditions, 30-40% of the carbon fixed in green leaves can be transferred to soil and rapidly humified, resulting in rates of soil carbon sequestration in the order of 5-20 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year. In some instances, high soil carbon sequestration rates have been recorded where there were virtually no ‘biomass inputs’, suggesting that the liquid carbon pathway was the primary mechanism for soil building.  Understanding the soil building process is therefore of fundamental importance to the future viability of agriculture.

Nualgi Foliar Spray: Benefits of Silicon

Silicon (Si) has been studied and observed in a wide variety of plant species. Under the new definition of plant essential elements, Si is included, due to deficiency causing various abnormalities in plant growth and performance (Ma and Takahashi 2002; Epstein and Bloom 2003). The beneficial effects of Si are usually expressed more clearly in Si-accumulating plants under various abiotic and biotic stress conditions.

Silicon is effective in controlling various pests and diseases caused by both fungi and bacteria in different plant species (Bowen et al. 1992; Menzies et al. 1992; Datnoff et al. 2002). Silicon also alleviates effects on various abiotic stresses including salt stress, metal toxicity, drought stress, radiation damage, nutrient imbalance, high temperature, freezing (Takahashi 1966; Ma et al. 2001). These beneficial effects are mainly attributed to the high accumulation of silica on the tissue surface although other mechanisms have also been proposed.

To obtain plants resistant to multiple stresses, genetic modification of the root ability to take up Si has been proposed in addition to soil and foliar applications.

For more information regarding the role of Silicon please see the article Role of Silicon in Enhancing the Resistance of Plants to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses.