Why trace minerals matter.
Trace minerals, also referred to as micronutrients are essential for plant growth and play an important role in balanced crop nutrition. The major difference is that unlike the primary / major nutrients (Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus), they are required in small quantities by plants. They include boron (B), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn). Most organic farmers look for a good balance of trace minerals.
Here it is a little more officially (from Wikipedia):
Micronutrients are nutrients required by organisms throughout life in small quantities to orchestrate a range of physiological functions. For people, they include dietary trace minerals in amounts generally less than 100 milligrams/day – as opposed to macrominerals which are required in larger quantities. The microminerals or trace elements include at least iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum. Micronutrients also include vitamins, which are organic compounds required as nutrients in tiny amounts by an organism, as well as phytochemicals.
Organic farmers realize that a lack of any one of the micronutrients in the soil can limit growth, even when all other nutrients are present in adequate amounts. Here is a brief about their key functions in plant growth and symptoms of deficiency. True “organic”, the healthy kind that everyone is after, means more than lack of pesticides. The best organic is grown in nutrient rich soil that has been spared from (or at least rehabilitated from) over use of nitrogen fertilizers and other chemical fertilizers.
So, here is a list of some of the trace minerals that you should test for if your planning on growing organic.
• Boron (B) – Boron helps with the formation of cell walls in rapidly growing tissue. It is also important for fruit set. Deficiency reduces the uptake of calcium and inhibits the plant’s ability to use it. Deficiency – shortened internodes and the death of the growing bud.
• Cobalt (Co). Cobalt is involved with atmospheric nitrogen fixation by Rhizobium bacteria on legume plants. Deficiency manifests itself as chlorosis and poor growth.
• Copper (Cu) – Copper is an essential constituent of enzymes in plants. It is essential for chlorophyll formation and provides a natural fungicidal effect. Deficiency – stunting, low yields, leaf rolling, bending or crinkling.
• Iron (Fe) – Iron is a constituent of many compounds that regulate and promote growth. It is important for biological nitrogen fixation and an indispensable oxygen carrier for chlorophyll production. Symptoms of deficiency are youngest leaves develop a light green chlorosis of all the tissues between the veins. The veins remain dark green.
• Manganese (Mn) – Manganese helps with photosynthesis. It is also nnecessary for optimal seed formation, fruiting and ripening in many crops. Deficiency – interveinal chlorosis with general stunting.
• Molybdenum (Mo) Molybdenum helps bacteria and soil organisms convert nitrogen in the air to soluble nitrogen compounds in the soil, so is particularly needed by legumes. It is also essential in the formation of proteins from soluble nitrogen compounds. Deficiency – paleness and stunting. The leaf edges also tend to burn.
• Zinc (Zn) Zinc helps in the production of a plant hormone responsible for stem elongation and leaf expansion. It is also an essential component in many enzymes and plays an important role in the formation and activity of chlorophyll. Deficiency – interveinal yellowing is often combined with overall paleness. Flowers and pods drop off and yields are dramatically reduced.
From the above it is clear that trace elements, though ‘working behind the scene’ play a crucial role in plant growth and development. A deficiency in any trace element in the soil can limit plant growth even when all other essential elements are present in adequate amounts. It is therefore important for farmer to ensure their soils have adequate amounts of these trace minerals and where they are lacking, use of supplements is recommended.
…and In case you were wondering “where do I get these ‘trace minerals’? Well, in Elemite. Elemite has over 66 elements naturally. Strait from the earth. No chemicals. No messing around. We get it from the quarry, crush it, bag it, and show you how to put it on your crop. Elemite should be the cornerstone of every organic farm.