Uses of Boron in Agriculture

Uses of Boron

Boron is an essential nutrient for growth and development of healthy plants. Boron compounds are used in small concentrations as micronutrients in fertilizers. When used in large concentrations they function as herbicides, algaecides and other pesticides.

Functions of boron in plants:

  • Essential for maintaining a balance between sugar and starch and helps in the translocation of sugar and carbohydrates
  • Important in pollination and seed production
  • Necessary for normal cell division, nitrogen metabolism and protein formation

Boron is an essential element for plants’ development, growth, crop yielding and seed development. It helps with the transfer of water and nutrition in plants. Though plants’ boron requirements are very low in quantity, their growth and crop yields are severely affected when soil is boron deficient.

Boric acid is commonly used in the agriculture industry as a source of boron for liquid fertilizers.  These liquid boron fertilizers are typically about 10% boron, and are used for soil and foliar applications.

Borates in solid form can be applied directly onto soil, where in humid conditions they will readily dissolve then be taken up by the plants’ roots.  Typical products used for this application are granular borax pentahydrate (Etibor 48) and granular ulexite.  These products can be applied directly, but are more commonly used as part of a nutrient blend containing other fertilizer components.  The amount of boron fertilizer to be applied onto soil varies according to plant type, method of application, amount of rain, and the soil’s lime and organic material contents.

Boron products can also be applied by spraying onto plant leaves. This benefits some plants whose intake is better through their leaves or in other cases where spraying is a better way of fertilizing.  Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (Etidot 67), which is specially made for agricultural applications, is the preferred boron product for these foliar sprays because it has much better solubility compared to the conventional boron products like borax decahydrate and borax pentahydrate, and a higher boron content than boric acid.

Other products used in fertilizer include borax decahydrate and borax pentahydrate. Because of their good solubility, sodium borates can be applied directly onto soil or sprayed onto plants. Ulexite, which is a naturally occurring calcium borate, is favored in sandy soils because of its low solubility. This helps it to remain in soil longer than sodium borates.

Boron-based herbicides are produced from borax and boric acid. They are generally mixed with sodium chloride or other chemicals.