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Introduction to soybean micronutrients

Introduction to soybean micronutrients

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In late August, we taped the virtual Midwest Soybean Production In-Field Clinic at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead in Saunders County. I worked with our new nutrient management and water quality Extension Specialist, Javed Iqbal, on demo plots and education on three topics including boron, zinc, and basic cation saturation ratios in soybean production. Numerous other production topics were included and you can learn how to access these upcoming online learning modules at the program website at extension.unl.edu/statewide/enre/crop/.

Given Javed and I talked about zinc and boron, I thought it would be a great idea to start a news column series on micronutrient fertility and plant nutrition for soybean production in southeast Nebraska. My PhD work at Kansas State University was focused on starter and foliar applications of micronutrients in corn and soybean in northeast and north central Kansas. Nine essential micronutrients are needed in small amounts by soybeans to grow. Micronutrients include boron (B), chloride (Cl), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn). Nutrient uptake by soybeans for each of these nine micronutrients is usually less than one pound per acre other than for iron and chloride.

Interest and concern about micronutrient needs of soybean is common among farmers and agronomist due to higher yields than in previous decades and the increased availability of micronutrient fertilizers in both liquid and dry formulations. Today, I want to lay out what I plan to cover for each micronutrient including why it is essential to soybean plants, known deficiencies and toxicities in the region, crop or soybean specific factors, factors of micronutrient availability in soil, soil and plant tissue testing, and fertilizer recommendations.

There are several resources that I encourage you to read to dust off your hat even before you read my next column on boron. First glance over our Extension Circular published in 2014 called Nutrient Management for Agronomic Crops in Nebraska at extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/ec155.pdf. Second, I helped review our revised NebGuide on Micronutrient Management in Nebraska in 2018, which you can find and read at extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g1830.pdf. Third, stop by our Extension offices in Saline (Wilber), Jefferson (Fairbury) and Gage (Beatrice) counties to get your free hard copy of the 2019 Edition of the Nebraska Soybean and Corn Pocket Guide produce in partnership between University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Nebraska Corn Board, and the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff. There is a specific section on soil fertility and plant nutrition in the pocket guide.

Feel free to email me at nathan.mueller@unl.edu or call me at 402-821-1722 to submit a question about micronutrients. I looked forward to writing about boron in my next biweekly column. Know your crop, know your tech, know your bottom line at croptechcafe.org.

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