April 13, 2024
Agricultural Micronutrient

Nourishing the Soil: Understanding Agricultural Micronutrients

Importance of Micronutrients in Agriculture

Micronutrients play a vital role in crop production and overall soil health. Though required in small quantities, micronutrients are essential for many plant metabolic functions and affect crop yield and quality.

Boron is essential for plant growth, development and yield. It plays an important role in sugar transport, cell wall structure and nutrient uptake. Lack of boron leads to poor flowering, fruiting and seed/grain production in plants. Crops like grapes, cucurbits, coconuts and oilseeds are highly susceptible to boron deficiency. Application of boron helps improve crop yields, especially in areas where soils are deficient in this Agricultural Micronutrients.

Iron plays a critical role in photosynthesis and respiration in plants. It is an important component of chlorophyll and helps convert sunlight into energy. Lack of iron results in interveinal chlorosis or yellowing of young leaves. Iron deficiency commonly occurs in alkaline and calcareous soils. Horticultural and ornamental crops are greatly affected by iron deficiency. Foliar application of iron chelates helps correct deficiency and boosts crop growth.

Manganese plays a key role in photosynthesis, respiration and nitrogen metabolism in plants. It activates several enzymes involved in these processes. Manganese deficiency causes dead spots between veins of young leaves. Rice, soybean, potato and citrus crops are highly prone to manganese deficiency especially under waterlogged and alkaline soil conditions. Addition of manganese sulfate to such soils improves yields of manganese deficient crops.

Zinc is essential for many plant metabolic activities including protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and growth regulation by plant growth hormones. Zinc deficiency is characterized by stunted growth, rosetting and small leaves in crops. It commonly occurs in coarse-textured and calcareous soils. Application of zinc improves crop resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses and increases yields. Cereals, legumes, oilseeds and fruits require balanced zinc nutrition.

Copper acts as a cofactor for various enzymes involved in photosynthesis and respiration. It helps in iron utilization and assists lignin formation in cell walls. Copper deficiency results in dieback of growing shoots and roots. Vegetable crops like potato, tomato and chili are susceptible to copper deficiency. Copper sulfate applied to soils corrects deficiencies and boosts crop productivity.

Molybdenum is an essential component of the enzyme nitrate reductase involved in nitrogen metabolism in plants. Lack of molybdenum reduces nitrogen fixation and uptake leading to stunted growth. Legumes are highly sensitive to molybdenum deficiency. Applying sodium molybdate to alkaline and acidic soils helps correct deficiency and improves nodulation and yield in legumes like soybean, chickpea and lentils.

Micronutrient Deficiency Diagnosis and Management

Proper diagnosis of specific micronutrient deficiency is important for effective management. Visual deficiency symptoms, plant tissue analysis and soil tests help identify the deficient micronutrient. Where multiple deficiencies co-exist, applying appropriate micronutrient mixtures or complex fertilizers corrects deficiencies.

Foliar sprays of water-soluble chelated micronutrient formulations provide quick corrections during the growing season. Edaphic factors like soil pH, texture and organic matter also influence micronutrient availability. Adjusting soil pH if required along with balanced fertilization goes a long way in preventing deficiencies. Use of micronutrient- enriched organic manures and biofertilizers maintains long-term soil micronutrient status.

Integrated soil and crop management approaches tailored to field and regional conditions help sustain crop productivity in a balanced micronutrient environment. With better understanding of plant micronutrient requirements and adoption of appropriate deficiency correction strategies, agricultural productivity and farmer incomes can be substantially increased. Micronutrient research also aids development of biofortified crops with higher nutritional value.

Availability of both macro and micronutrients in balanced proportion is important for optimum crop growth and maximum yields. Though required in small quantities, micronutrients have significant impacts on plant physiological processes and quality produce. Their deficiency interrupts metabolic activities and impairs crop growth and productivity. Proper diagnosis and management of observed or anticipated micronutrient deficiencies through soil testing and balanced fertilization helps boost agricultural sustainability and food security. Further research also holds promise to develop new fertilizer formulations and farming practices for enhanced nutrition delivery to crops.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it