SLU news

The important micronutrients – one of the keys to successful crop production

Published: 20 May 2016

In order for cereal crops to grow properly, it is absolutely necessary that they are provided with sufficient amounts of micronutrients. In a new doctoral thesis, Karin Hamnér has investigated how micronutrients such as boron, copper, iron and zinc in cereal crops are affected by nutrient management and soil properties. The results can be used to identify fields with an elevated risk of micronutrient deficiency in cereal crops.

n order to avoid crop losses, Karin Hamnér has investigated how micronutrients in Swedish cereal crops are affected by nutrient management and soil properties. In addition, soil depletion was quantified and methods for prediction of micronutrient availability in soil were assessed. Karin has used data from long term and short term Swedish field trials as well as data from the Swedish monitoring programme.

The results showed that the depletion rate of micronutrients is slow and difficult to detect, even over decades. Repeated applications of organic fertilizers caused micronutrient accumulation in soil, but generally did not result in increased micronutrient concentrations in cereal crops. Instead, soil properties affecting micronutrient availability were of greater importance for crop accumulation.  High nitrogen fertilization rates resulted in increased concentrations of most micronutrients in winter wheat, but the crops contained relatively higher levels of nitrogen, compared with micronutrients.

– By using readily available data, like the total concentration of micronutrients in the soil, in combination with for example pH, it is possible to estimate the availability of micronutrients in the soil. With these new results, it will be easier to identify fields that are likely to be deficient in micronutrients, says Karin Hamnér.

Karin will defend her doctoral thesis on the 27th of May at 9:00 am. Opponent is Dr Alex H Sinclair from Scotland’s Rural College in Great Britain.

Contact, 018-671236

Page editor: