100 years of boron in agriculture

:: Tuesday, April 11, 2023 :: Posted By Fabiano Silvestrin

Katherine Warington in her later years. Photo by Katherine Warington SchoolKatherine Warington was a pioneering scientist whose work on boron and its importance in plant nutrition has had a lasting impact on the field of agriculture. In 1923, Warington demonstrated that boron is an essential nutrient for plant growth and development, leading to its recognition as an essential mineral element in plants. Her legacy is still being carried on today by U.S. Borax. We are committed to building on her research and advancing the field of borates in agriculture.


The beginning of boron in agriculture

Warington was born in England in 1891 and earned a degree in chemistry from University College London in 1913. She then began her career as a research chemist at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), where she focused on the study of borate chemistry. Boron was not yet recognized as an essential nutrient for plants or animals, and its potential role in industrial applications was not fully understood. But Warington would change that!

Her work at ICI helped to establish the basic chemistry of boron and its compounds, including borax and boric acid. She discovered new borate compounds and identified their properties, such as their ability to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. Her work also helped to clarify the role of boron in plant growth and development.

In 1930, Warington joined the Rothamsted Experimental Station, a leading agricultural research institution in England. There, she continued her work on boron and its role in plant nutrition. She conducted experiments on boron deficiency in crops, showing that boron was necessary for proper cell division and growth in plants. Her research also demonstrated that boron deficiency could lead to reduced crop yields and poor-quality produce.

Warington's work had a significant impact on agriculture and industry. Her research on boron and its applications helped establish boron as an essential nutrient for plants, and her discoveries paved the way for the development of borate-based products in agriculture and industry.

U.S. Borax: Continuing Warington’s research

Today, we continue to build on Warington's legacy through our own research and advancement of borate science. Like Warington, we conduct field trials on boron deficiency in crops—taking into account regional soil conditions, modern farming equipment and practices as well as current climate challenges.

Read more about our crop-specific research

Our long history of innovation and product development in the agriculture industry is based on this continual field research. We partner with some of the most prestigious agricultural research institutions around the globe to ensure our trials meet and exceed scientific standards for excellence. Our commitment and attention to detail allows us to bring products to market that growers need.

Learn more about U.S. Borax products

U.S. Borax products are developed due to our diligent research and in-depth regional knowledge. As we celebrate 100 years of boron as a micronutrient, we are committed to advancing the field of borate science and building on the legacy of pioneers like Katherine Warington.




 boron basics

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.