Boron: Key to healthy crops on a changing planet

:: Friday, April 21, 2023 :: Posted By Fabiano Silvestrin

We’re living in an age where climate concern is more prevalent than ever before. We’re also living at a time when we know more about how our changing climate can affect food supply. Droughts in particular are becoming more frequent and more severe in the United States—and across the globe. For agriculturalists, this means adapting to new weather patterns and learning to maintain yield and crop production with less reliable moisture.

A protective micronutrient

Boron is an essential nutrient for plants, something Katherine Warington identified in 1923. But what we’ve recently learned is that boron can play a key role in aiding plants with drought resistance. By establishing a strong foundation with proper nutrition, plants grow to be heartier and are better able to withstand difficult conditions.

In addition, research has shown that when a crop is under stress from drought, plant growth is limited due to lowered:

  • Leaf water-relations
  • Photosynthetic capacity
  • Membrane permeability

When boron was applied to corn in one study, growth was improved due to improved water status and photosynthetic capacity. In addition, researchers found other stress relieving indicators were found in the crop with additional boron.

When crops are under drought stress, they experience a series of physiological changes to adapt to their new conditions. One of these responses is the accumulation of boron in the leaves and roots. Boron helps plants maintain water balance by regulating the opening and closing of stomata, the tiny pores on the surface of leaves that regulate the exchange of gases and water vapor between the plant and the environment.

When plants are under drought stress, boron can help to keep the stomata open for longer periods, allowing the plant to absorb more carbon dioxide for photosynthesis while losing less water through transpiration.

Boron also aids with the synthesis of proline, an amino acid that acts as an osmoprotectant, helping the plant to maintain its turgor pressure and water potential during drought. Proline also stabilizes proteins and cellular structures, preventing damage from dehydration and oxidative stress.

By regulating water balance and enhancing the plant’s ability to withstand drought stress, boron plays an important role in promoting the growth and productivity of crops under challenging environmental conditions.

Adding boron to your mix

In addition to helping with drought tolerance, borate fertilizers such as U.S. Borax products, help farmers maximize the potential for high crop yield when boron is the limiting factor.

Using U.S. Borax refined borate fertilizers also aid in soil balance by reducing contaminants such as arsenic.

U.S. Borax: Committed to sustainable agriculture

We are a company committed to the future of the planet and agricultural sustainability. In order to secure our future on an ever-changing planet, we encourage farmers to meet global food needs in sustainable ways. We promote practices that are:

  • Environmentally conscience
  • Good for local communities
  • Profitable for growers

We are a member of The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) which promotes the 4Rs:

  1. Right fertilizer
  2. Right rate
  3. Right time
  4. Right place

This can help increase profitability and crop production while protecting the environment and improving sustainability for future generations.

In the face of climate changes, we must all work together to ensure global food security across our planet. We are committed to creating a better future for our children by creating products to help farmers in the field.




U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

Copyright © 2024 Rio Tinto. All Rights Reserved.