Boron deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in agriculture. If left undetected and untreated, it can wreak havoc on crops and devastate overall harvest yields. However, boron deficiency causes, symptoms, and treatment methods are well documented. Understanding more about this common ailment will set you up for quality yields.
What causes boron deficiency?
The ideal range of boron concentration in soil is between 0.5mg/kg and 4 mg/kg. Many factors affect the levels of boron in crops, and depending on where a farm is located and the type of soil available, some or all of these factors may apply to your crops.
- Water: Boron is water soluble, so if a farm receives excessive rainfall or is over-irrigated, the abundance of water may carry the essential boron away with it.
- pH level: Depending on the pH level of the soil, boron may not be present in a high enough concentration—neutral to slightly acidic soils are best.
- Organic matter: The more organic matter available in the soil, the more likely that boron will be present. The presence of organic matter also helps retain boron, helping to reduce its loss if excess water is a problem.
- Moisture: If the farmed soil lacks moisture or contains high levels of clay (which restricts water movement), it makes it difficult for the plant to take up boron through its roots, leaving it starved of essential boron.
- Presence of other nutrients: Excess calcium or a lack of nitrogen may also impact a plant’s ability to absorb boron efficiently.
If you’re unsure whether your soil and crop are suffering from boron deficiency, familiarize yourself with the most common symptoms. A comprehensive list of crops and associated symptoms can be found in our crop guides.
Does your soil have a boron deficiency?
If you have reason to believe that your soil and crops suffer from boron deficiency, contact your local crop consultant or soil specialist, and ask for a soil test to determine the level of deficiency. If the test indicates a need for a boron supplement, your crop consultant or soil specialist should also be able to recommend the right amount of boron and the right blend of nutrients to correct your problem. A crop consultant or soil specialist will know how certain elements and nutrients interact with one another in order to ensure the proper uptake occurs for your plants.
Although boron deficiency is the second most prevalent micronutrient deficiency, it also means that many growers have had experience working through the challenges it presents. As such, solutions exist to test, mitigate, and ultimately treat plants and fields suffering from boron deficiency. With a solid understanding of the requirements of your crops and soil and the right application of nutrient supplements, you can maintain a healthy balance of boron in your plants—and maximize your yields year after year.