How do you prevent a shortage of trace elements?

FertilizersAll crops need a variety of trace elements in addition to the basic elements that are administered through fertilizers. These elements are also known as micro-nutrients. They are the smallest elements of plant nutrition that allow the crop to flourish. There are eight different types of trace elements: molybdenum, nickel, copper, zinc, manganese, boron, iron and chlorine. Trace elements also play a vital role in the metabolism of plants. There are, however, various factors - among which the acidity level - that often prevent trace elements from being absorbed by a plant. This creates a nutrient deficiency. In this article, our experts provide more information and tips on how to prevent such deficiencies from occurring in your crops. 

Trace elements

Trace elements are important for a healthy growth of the crop. Eight different trace elements, also called micro nutrients, can be listed: molybdenum, copper, zinc, manganese, boron and iron. Important roles are fulfilled by these nutritional elements, for instance in the crop's metabolism. But trace elements are used for many more processes within the plant. 

Obstructing factors

These factors can be of great influence when the concentration of trace elements is not as expected: 
  • High pH 
  • The order in preparing the fertilizer tank
  • Antagonism of fertilizers
  • Effect of UV light on chelates

Effects of deficiencies

Each and every plant is in need of the right amount of trace elements. However, a situation in which this is not the case could occur. An undesired situation like such, could be caused by one of the factors mentioned above. 

Even though, it can happen, it is very important to prevent a deficiency at all times, since it can affect the plant greatly. For example, the crop's growth can be restrained, but it can also affect different internal processes such as photosynthesis. 

Improve the functionality of trace elements added

As mentioned earlier, several factors can be of influence when the trace elements are not as functional as desired. Therefor, these factors should always be taken into account. Especially when experiencing problems in terms of the intake of trace elements. 

A high pH level in the fertilizer tank or in the root environment, could cause precipitation of the trace elements, which is likely to result in a lack of nutritional elements available to be taken in. Precipitation of trace elements due to a high pH level is taken into consideration with a pH of 6.5 or higher. If the pH is this high, oxidation of several elements is at risk. Oxidated trace elements can no longer be taken in by the plant, due to its form. 

Besides the pH level, the preparation of fertilizer tanks should be done precisely. The order in which fertilizers are added and the seperation of various fertilizers is extremely important. An article on how to prepare fertilizer tanks was written by our fertilizer specialist. 

Thereby, in the combination of a high pH and the use of red iron, the antagonistic effect could affect the manganese. This means, the iron "pushes away" the manganese, which can no longer be taken in. A risk for a manganese deficiency can be remarked in this case, but this could also lead to other elements in a different situation. 

Finally, the use of chelates is recommended when adding trace elements. When making use of chelates, these product should be stored in a sun-free area. This because UV light is known to negatively affact chelates, because it breaks the organic connection within the fertilizer. The quality of the chelate will decrease when this happens and it will increase the chance of the trace elements precipitating, with a result of the plant not taking in the nutritional elements needed.

Questions or advice

If you have questions about preventing a deficiency in trace elements or the use of trace elements in the form of chelates, please contact one of our fertilizer experts or use the form below to submit your question.

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