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Boron is one of the essential trace elements that every plant relies on and is well known to be a valuable resource ensuring a plant’s healthy leaf development, flowering, reproductive cycle and seed development.
But in New Zealand our soils are largely deficient in this critical building block.
Boron fertilisers generally come in the form of either sodium borate (highly soluble), calcium borate (extremely insoluble), or magnesium borate, which sits relatively in the middle.
Most of the boron fertilisers in the New Zealand market are based on sodium borate, or Ulexite.
Growers using sodium borate face two key problems.
Firstly, boron that is not immediately taken up by the plant leaches away almost as quickly as the water because of its high solubility and can often result in a boron-deficient plant.
Secondly, but perhaps more critically, if boron is released too quickly it can result in boron toxicity.
Due to the challenging balance between applying too little or too much, growers will usually apply boron in small amounts several times a year to achieve the necessary constant supply to plants.
The answer to achieving the right balance of boron lies in Argentina where an extremely rare magnesium and calcium borate rock occurs naturally.
It is called OrganiBOR, a rare mineral that has been supplying boron requirements to the New Zealand market for more than 10 years, with great success for growers.
OrganiBOR is a BioGro certified fertiliser and can be used on any crop, including all organic crops, and can be applied at any time of the year.
Growers using OrganiBOR have been seeing significant results compared to the other boron products on the market.
Manager of Barewood Station of Lonestar Farms in Otago, Marty Deans, said for the past five to six years Lonestar Farms had used OrganiBOR over their 800ha of brassica, fodderbeet crops and lucerne.
‘‘OrganiBOR has assisted in growing healthy crops year on year with an observed reduction in brown heart,’’ he said.
‘‘The lucerne is also reaping the benefit of the higher boron levels that are easier to access.’’
Unlike sodium borates, OrganiBOR can be applied to crops and pasture just once every 12 to 24 months depending on desired outcomes, climate and soil conditions.
The calcium/magnesium borate chip releases boron at a similar rate to which most plants take up boron from the soil, therefore eliminating the risk of boron toxicity or creating boron-deficient environments.
Throughout the growing season OrganiBOR will release a stable supply of boron to the crop or pasture, a critical factor to plant growth.
This continuous supply allows for higher dry matter yields and betterquality crops and pasture, as well as a sustainable, effective and economical solution for crop management. — Grochem