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What is the purpose of trace elements?

Purpose of trace elements
Written by: Han van der Kooij | Last update: 13-02-2020

Fertilizers play a big and crucial role in a plant’s growth process. No cultivation can be done, without using fertilizers. In fact, every crop needs main and trace elements, to be able to growth healthily and continuously. In this article, the importance of trace elements is explained by our product specialist fertilizers. 

Main elements

In order to be able to grow normally, every crop is in need of main elements in quite high amounts. The following nutrients should always be available to the plant: 

Trace elements

Besides the main elements, which always return in a nutritional feeding schedule, the trace elements (also called micro nutrients) should never be forgotten or underestimated. Trace elements play an important role during metabolism and a number of enzymatic reactions. An excess amount or absence could lead to an increased susceptibility for diseases. The most important trace elements are listed below: 

Trace elements

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Trace elements in practice

Not all trace elements are available to the plant when a low or high pH level is measured. 

“A high pH level could result in the trace elements precipitating. The same applies when the pH level is low. When this happens, the micro element is no longer available to the plant, which means it cannot be taken in by the plant. As a result, an increased risk for a deficiency is there, which should be prevented at all times.”, according to our product specialist fertilizers. 

During growth, an augmented pH level in the root area is seen. This pH leads to a lower availability of many trace elements. This could happen when making use of sulphates. In order to prevent precipitation of micro nutrients in a low or high pH in the fertilizer solution or root environment, it is recommended to make use of chelates. 

What are chelates?

Chelates are organic molecules that have the possibility to keep many elements available in the root environment and fertilizer solution. Thanks to this claw named the chelate, the transport of nutrients towards the roots is ensured. Some trace elements are unstable when the pH in the root environment fluctuates or when dissolved in the fertilizer tank. Precipitation of the elements could cause problems for the crop, since they are no longer available to the plant. 
To ensure the intake of every crucial nutrient, such as iron for example, the use of chelates is inevitable. Iron should always be offered to the crop in chelated form, because it easily precipitates when in contact with other nutrients in the substrate and fertilizer tank. Selecting the correct chelated trace elements strongly depends on the pH level in your fertilizer solution and root environment.  

Chelates in percentages

When speaking about chelates, one always talks about percentages. With this percentage, insight is given into what percentage of the fertilizer, consists out of a chelated element. For example, Easygro Zn-EDTA 15%, contains 15% of zinc. The rest of the fertilizer is organic material, namely the molecule of the chelate itself. 

Assortment of chelates

Multiple chelates are available. All of which the usage depends on the pH level in which the fertilizers eventually end up. 

  • Manganese
    The nutrient manganese is available in an EDTA chelate.

  • Boron
    Boron is not available in the form of a chelate, because it cannot be chelated due to technical reasons. 


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Questions about trace elements? 

Do you have questions about the purpose od trace elements? Then, contact product specialist Han van der Kooij by using the form below. We'll respond within 24 hours on working days.

Han van der KooijAbout Han van der Kooij

Han van der Kooij, fertiliser product specialist at Royal Brinkman, understands the customer like no one else. After being a grower himself, for 26 years, he knows the ropes and is aware of what is involved in being a grower. Converting his own knowledge and experience into recommendations that are useful to growers, is what he likes best about his job. "Finding that this leads to good results, makes me quite satisfied."

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