It has been an accepted practice that fertilizer application whether organic or chemical can increase crop yields.
However, what farmers are aware of are the major nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (K), and potassium (K). What has been mostly taken for granted are the micro nutrients which are very important in crop production.
Micro nutrients known also as trace elements, are needed by plants in very small amounts so that they will not only grow properly they will also produce better quality fruits or leaves.
These micro nutrients include boron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, iron, sodium,calcium and others. These are usually found naturally in the soil but with continuous and non stop cropping the could get depleted.
Boron is important in the proper growth of practically every crop, from fruit trees to leafy greens, to cereals and many others. While the micronutrients needed by plants are very small (only four kilos per hectare for fruits, for example), the effect is very significant.
Any deficiency of these minor elements like for example boron, fruits will develop lumps on their skin. Lack of boron in watermelon, on the other hand, will result in fruits with hollow heart and lacking in juiciness.
Boron deficiency could also be one of the causes of the causes of fruit cracking in mangoes. There are many undesirable results of boron deficiency. Some parts of the flowers will not develop properly, hence, pollination will prove difficult.
This in turn results in very poor fruit set. Even root crops require trace elements to produce higher yields. And the plants grown from tubers fertilized with micro nutrients were more resistant to anthracnose disease, a severe malady that afflicts not only root crops but also in many other crops.
Deficiencies of the other micro nutrients result in many plant abnormalities. For example, zinc deficiency in citrus results in young leaves that are small and narrow and the plants don’t produce normal fruits, if they do bear fruits at all.
Deficiencies in iron, manganese and zinc can occur at the same time. When that happens, the leaves of citrus trees are conspicuously white or yellow in color. The trees don’t grow normally and won’t bear normal fruits.
While boron is important in the proper growth of various crops, an overdose should be avoided. The same holds true with other micronutrients. Too much of the good micro nutrients also not good for the plants, say an overdose of boron in citrus, the old leaves will show a scorching or yellow of the margins and tips.
There are now micro elements sold in the market to choose from. Some are available in the local market with formulation containing several micro elements. Some of the micro nutrients could be sprayed on the leaves or applied in the soil.
When you are buying your usual nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium fertilizer, look for those, that also contain micro elements. That’s usually a better buy.