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Everything you ever wanted to know about Zinc

Alloway_cover_i.jpg Prof. Brian Alloway, Emeritus Professor of Soil Science, University of Reading, U.K.

A comprehensive overview of zinc and crop nutrition.

Function of Micronutrients in Plant Growth

Boron: Involved in formation of cell walls, terminal buds and pollen tubes. Participates in regulation of starch production and translocation of sugars and starches.

Calcium: Involved in formation of cell walls and root and leaf development. Participates in translocation of sugars.

Copper: Involved in photosynthetic and respiration systems. Assists chlorophyll synthesis and used as reaction catalyst.

Iron: Involved in respiration and chlorophyll synthesis.

Magnesium: Involved in photosynthetic and respiration system. Active in uptake of phosphate and translocation of phosphate and starches.

Manganese: Involved in regulation of enzymes and growth hormones. Assists in photosynthesis and respiration.

Molybdenum: Involved in enzymatic reduction of nitrates to ammonia. Assists in conversion of inorganic phosphate to organic form.

Sulfur: Involved in formation of nodules and chlorophyll synthesis, structural component of amino acids and enzymes.

Zinc: Involved in production of growth hormones and chlorophyll. Active in respiration and carbohydrate synthesis.

Factors Affecting Availability

There are many soil and environmental factors that affect the availability of micronutrients to plants. The major factors include: pH, organic matter content, nutrient interactions, soil water content, temperature, and light. For example:

Availability of boron, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc decreases dramatically with increasing soil pH.

Poorly drained soils may lead to manganese or zinc deficiencies.

Cold, wet soils may induce a zinc deficiency.

Soils low in organic matter, especially sandy soils, may be low in all micronutrients, especially zinc and copper.

Soils high in organic matter may tie up manganese and copper into unavailable complexes.

Excessive levels of other plant nutrients, especially phosphorus or calcium may induce micronutrient deficiencies.