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Managing micronutrients


Managing micronutrients

Manganese (Mn) and Boron (B)

Mike Veenema, CCA-ON, 4R NMS
Crop Sales Specialist
AGRIS Co-operative - Tupperville


This year, we have been presented with some fantastic marketing opportunities and some favourable conditions to advance some early planting activity. It is ever more critical to recognize, manage and remove limiting factors to crop growth.

Micronutrients are essential nutrients

An essential nutrient is one for which there is no substitution and is required for plants to complete their normal life cycle. Soil sampling can play a crucial role in accessing the micronutrient needs; however, there may be some limits on methodology, especially with boron. For that reason working with experienced agronomy specialists can help to determine when the micronutrient needs are greatest.

The name "micronutrients" might imply a lesser or unimportant requirement; however, they can be the first limiting factor in crop production. Deficiencies can limit nutrient use efficiencies, especially with nitrogen and other primary nutrients such as P, K and Mg, as they will be underutilized when micronutrients are limited.

Most required micros can be supplied with starter fertilizers in corn and other crops. However, this is not the case with all, as soybeans are not typically planted with starter fertilizer. Some nutrients, such as manganese, are not always available through the soil even if supplied, and foliar feeding may be more efficient.


Manganese deficiency has been evident in wheat this spring, usually with dry soil conditions. Manganese plays an essential role in chlorophyll production and therefore photosynthesis, and when there isn't enough uptake of Mn, plants will be pale yellow/white stripes between the veins of the leaves. A lack of manganese significantly reduces photosynthesis and lowers sugar production, impacting standability and grain fill.

We see the same problem during most growing seasons, with many soybean fields every year, but we have a solution to significantly reduce or avoid the problem altogether. AGRIS MN 5 Manganese, applied with your in-crop glyphosate application, will keep those beans green and growing. Extended dry periods and the fact that Mn is not mobile in the plant may necessitate a second application 7 to 10 days later. Planning can help avoid deficiencies and avoid potential yield loss.


Boron is another essential micronutrient. Boron is involved in many processes involving sugar production and cell integrity that keeps tissue connected and allows for the movement of nutrients throughout the plant. Not all corn starter applications allow for boron to be added, as it should not be near the seed, so in-furrow pop-up starters won't allow adding this in. However, when side-dressing nitrogen on corn, we have the opportunity to add boron safely, and corn will need to have it available during the pollination, reproductive and grain fill periods.

Any extra help we can give a crop during these periods is essential to reduce stress and maximize performance. If boron isn't currently part of your fertility plans, it could be. We have seen some very positive yield results in the past. Try something new this year, such as adding boron to your current fertility program.

The cost of adding micronutrients or bio-stimulants is relatively low. The return on investment is potentially high, making it a low-risk investment–especially with the current marketing opportunities we've been given.

Talk to your local Wanstead crop sales specialist to consider adding micronutrients to your crop plans, or set up a field trial to see what works on your farm.

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