Boosting pulse production in India: The power of boron

:: Wednesday, June 21, 2023 :: Posted By Punit Antal

The role of pulses in India's economy is integral to its food security. Pulses, along with other legumes, are an important source of nutrition and energy for India's large population, which is often unable to meet its own food needs. Pulses are especially important because they are high in protein, which is an essential component of a balanced and healthy diet. In addition to providing much-needed nutrients, pulses are extremely efficient crops that require minimal inputs, making them cost-effective and sustainable.

The area under pulses cultivation in India has grown tremendously in the past few decades. The major pulse crops are:

  • Chickpeas
  • Pigeon peas
  • Moong beans
  • Urad beans
  • Lentils

Domestic pulse production has reduced India’s need to import from Asia. Today, India is the largest producer of pulses in the world. And, exported 410,375 MT of pulses during the 2021-22 growing season. India has a self-sufficiency ratio of more than 90%.

The production of pulses in India provides an affordable and high-quality source of nutrition and the importance of boron cannot be overstated. Boron is an essential micronutrient required for the growth and development of plants and boron deficiency in soil can lead to reduced crop yields and poor-quality produce.

How to spot boron deficiency in pulse crops

Boron deficiency drastically reduces nodulation, growth, and yield of legumes due to insufficient supply of carbohydrates to bacteria in the root nodules and inadequate conversion of starch to soluble sugars. A minor boron deficiency is usually visually unrecognizable; however, you may notice an up to 25% reduction in seed set. As the deficiency becomes more severe, deformation will occur at the growing tip of the plant.

Symptoms of boron deficiency in pulse crops include the following:

  • Stems: Brittle, hollow, and weak stems with a reduced diameter which can lead to plants falling over. Stems may also turn brown.
  • Growth: Stunted growth and reduction in plant height
  • Roots: Reduced root development and black root
  • Flowers: Reduction in the number of flowers
  • Fruit set: Decreased fruit and deformed pods with fewer seeds

How to choose the right boron application

Incorporating boron products into your farming practices can lead to better crop quality and higher yields. When choosing your boron fertilizer, it's important to consider various factors such as soil type, crop stage, application preference, and availability.

Soil pH can impact the effectiveness of your boron application. Boron is most available to plants when soil pH is between 5.5 and 7.5. If your soil pH is outside of this range, you may need to adjust it before applying boron. Boron is often most effective when applied during the flowering and fruiting stages of the crop. This is when the plant's demand for boron is highest.

U.S. Borax products such as Solubor®, Liquibor®, and Granubor® offer many options for application. These boron fertilizers are known for their effectiveness in providing crops with the necessary boron nutrients to optimize plant growth and yield.

When comparing the three, Solubor may be the most versatile and customizable option as it is a highly concentrated, highly soluble, and fast-dissolving powder that is ideal for foliar and other sprays. Solubor is absorbed by the plant to promote better root development and overall plant growth.

Liquibor comes in liquid form and is easy to apply through your fertigation or foliar spray as it requires no mixing or measuring. If you live in one of the regions of India that requires irrigation to ensure growth and yield, then Liquibor may be a great option for your farm. With a rate of 13g/100ml versus boric acid’s average of 4.72 g/100ml, the unique solubility of Liquibor is more effective in reducing the chance of causing an obstruction in the spray nozzle.

Granubor is a pure, 100% water-soluble micronutrient that meets boron demand during the growing season. Made especially for bulk blenders, Granubor helps to ensure uniform distribution in nutritional blends and in the field. Granubor is the most convenient for soil application and offers long-lasting effects.

In terms of boron content, Solubor is 20.5%, followed by Granubor at 15%, and Liquibor at 11%. However, the effectiveness of each fertilizer may vary depending on the specific soil conditions, application methods, and crop requirements.

How much boron is enough?

A little boron goes a long way when it comes to pulse crops. Although, research has shown that positive plant response can be seen in an application of 0.5-2.5 kg B ha-1, spraying crops fortnightly with borate fertilizer may be needed. For example, one study has proven that the application of 2.0 and 2.5 kg B ha-1 resulted in an increase for chickpeas by 38% (Sakal et al, 1988).

Personalized consultation from U.S. Borax

Consult with a local U.S. Borax representative to determine the most suitable option for your specific crop and soil conditions.




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.

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