Boron in Agriculture: Supporting Optimal Plant Health

:: Monday, May 8, 2017 :: Posted By Fabiano Silvestrin
For nearly a century, boron has been known to drastically improve plant health. Scientific research shows that boron plays a vital role in the development and maintenance of cell walls, membrane function, and in the flowering and fruit development process of plants. Plants that are deficient in boron display numerous undesired anatomical, biochemical, and physiological changes in plants that can be costly—or even devastating—to farmers’ crops and livelihood.

Fortunately, a little knowledge and the right application of the right boron soil supplement can help prevent such damage.

Boron: Protecting plants from the inside

Think of plant cell walls like a well-constructed castle: sturdy and strong. The cell wall is the gatekeeper to the community within, welcoming some beneficial additions but preventing harmful substances from entering. Additionally, the cell wall—like the bricks of the castle—gives a plant its rigidity and structure. If a plant doesn’t have healthy cell walls, unwanted microbes and disease can enter the plant and weaken it significantly. 

Optimal levels of boron support cell wall health, giving the plant a leg-up, protecting it from harm, promoting healthy growth—and enabling higher yields. 

Different forms of boron, different uses

For farmers who are concerned about potential boron deficiency, a key question is how to ensure plants get the right levels of boron in the right way.

Boron is available in different forms for different types of applications:
  • Granular boron (such as U.S. Borax’s Granubor®) consists of small pellets (granules) that are easy to apply directly to soil or mix with other nutrients for slow release throughout the growing cycle
  • Fine powders mixed into sprayable solutions (such as Solubor®) make it easy to uniformly apply boron to leafy crops such as vegetables and tree and nut crops
  • Highly soluble forms of boron can also be introduced into field or drip irrigation systems—a method that requires careful measurement and system calibration
Regardless of the form or method of applying boron, it’s important for farmers to know the quality of the product they’re using. Boron is available in raw mineral or refined forms. 

Raw minerals (borates) are a mixed bag of chemical compounds. The actual percentage of boron in raw minerals can vary greatly, as does the solubility. Less solubility means the boron is less available to plants, so farmers who apply raw minerals may get very little improvement for their effort. 

Refined boron products have been processed to remove impurities and contaminants and improve solubility. Because these products are consistent, 100% water soluble, and highly available to plants, farmers can apply less—saving money while getting higher quality crops and a more consistent result. 

Building better farms with optimal nutrient levels

For decades, farmers dealt with the symptoms of boron deficiency, though they didn’t know the cause of these ailments. Over the past half century, U.S. Borax and agricultural researchers have been able to provide greater understanding of how boron is depleted in soil; how to achieve optimal levels of nutrients in different types of soil; and how different applications and rates of boron supplementation affect different crops. 

Armed with that knowledge today, farmers are better positioned to give their crops the nutrients they need to thrive and produce a quality harvest. Through partnership with local distributors and agronomists, farmers can choose how to ensure their crops receive this powerful micronutrient. 

Proactively adding boron to the farming process has improved the operations of millions of farmers worldwide. Ultimately, the application of boron leads to more land productivity and more bushels produced per acre. 

By adding boron to their fields, farmers grow healthier, more reliable, more profitable crops.

Since 1872, U.S. Borax has been at the forefront of boron extraction, scientific research, and application. Solubor is used worldwide, known for its high concentration of boron and excellent dissolution in water, making it the ideal choice for distributing boron in farm sprays. For boron applications to soil and use in blended fertilizers, we have developed Granubor, which allows season-long release of boron to your soil.



 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.

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