It’s the Little Things: The Role of Micronutrients
plant health extends beyond nitrogen, phosphorus & potassium
The major players are always covered in nutrient management discussions – nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Many times, the role micronutrients play in successful plant development is overlooked, whether by accident or design.
However, there is increasing awareness and education among farmers when it comes to the importance of micronutrients in efficient crop production. Today, crops are grown in a wide range of soil conditions and the availability of nutrients can vary greatly. Focusing solely on N, P and K doesn’t show a nutrient management program’s full potential for plant development or farm profitability.
“Micronutrients are by no means less important, they are just needed in lower amounts over time,” says Philip Northover, Ph.D., CCA and technical development manager for Verdesian Life Sciences. “A plant’s ability to withstand adverse conditions, such as environmental stresses, pests and pathogens is directly influenced by micronutrients.”
Micronutrients work particularly in specialty crops like stone fruits and vegetables to drive chemical reactions that maintain a plant’s performance, including:
- root growth
- shoot growth
- chlorophyll production
- fruit development
Plant processes can often restrict a plant’s ability to take up nutrients and use them, which has a negative impact on growth and development. This dynamic makes micronutrient uptake an essential component of maintaining good plant health.
“Farmers growing permanent crops, such as tree nuts, and even the fruit and veggie growers, see the importance of micronutrients,” Northover adds. “New developments in science and technology products enhance a plant’s ability to acquire and utilize these nutrients and boost metabolism in row crops as well.”
Micronutrients remain an area of plant health that is largely unexplored by the industry. As nutrient management plans grow in complexity, it is clear plants reach maximum potential when they take up nutrients that work together to achieve peak metabolism, ultimately leading to peak performance.