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Unlocking the Power of Zinc

 

Getting the small things right can make a big difference—especially when it comes to crop nutrition. 

Zinc needs for corn are relatively small, but given the right environment and nutrient blends, it can add significant yield benefits. Read on to learn more about this essential nutrient.

The Importance of Zinc

Zinc is an essential component in several enzymes required for metabolic processes in crops, including protein synthesis and growth regulation. This crucial micronutrient is largely responsible for plant development, and without it, crops would fail to thrive. Zinc is widely known for its ability to positively impact crop growth and yield productivity.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is a very common problem across the globe in agriculture. It can be caused by low levels of Zn present in the soil profile, an imbalanced fertilizer program, or even other nutrients, such as phosphorus. We know zinc is important, but what happens without it?

  • Because of its role in plant growth, signs of zinc deficiency include minimal new leaf growth, small leaf growth, curled or cupped leaves, discoloration of leaves, stunted stalk growth and overall lower yield and quality.
  • Without zinc, crops are also more susceptible to damage from temperature changes, including cold and drought conditions. Particularly in cold temperatures where mineralization within the soil slows down, crops can take up less zinc from the ground. This is especially important to consider in terms of shallow, sandy soil composition where soil cools dramatically quicker than denser soil. So as we continue to push the limits and plant earlier in the springtime, zinc deficiencies are showing up more frequently in field conditions.

The Impact of Phosphorus on Zinc

Another important factor concerning zinc is its relationship with other nutrients. Phosphorus, another vital crop nutrient, can actually tie up zinc, if not properly balanced. This imbalance can cause harm to the plant and lower yields. Phosphorus isn’t bad, we just need to make sure we use the right ratios when using it in starters to maximize the yield benefits of starter fertilizers.

In the chart below, Dr. Jake shares how several studies have indicated that applying phosphorus starter fertilizer without zinc can actually lower crop yields.

In fact, Dr. Jake saw yields increase by five to seven bushels per acre when zinc is applied. Traditional phosphorus fertilizer can actually prevent zinc uptake, therefore doing more harm than good for the plant. This is why adding zinc is crucial to starter fertilizer application. 

A well-formulated fertilizer will include zinc at a concentration level that can mitigate phosphorus interaction and produce strong, healthy crops. To learn more, or check and see if your starter fertilizer program is balanced, reach out to a Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator!  We are here to help!

Maintaining Zinc

Now that we’ve established zinc’s importance in crop development and yield optimization, let’s talk about how to maintain zinc levels. 

  • Your soil composition greatly impacts your need for zinc and affects your application strategy. As mentioned before, soil density and composition can impact zinc requirements. While temperature plays a role, conditions such as rocky or sandy soil are additional determining factors. Zinc occurs naturally in rocks, so even small rocks within the soil can be a source of zinc for crops (so don’t get too carried away when picking rocks in the field!). Being aware of soil health also means knowing when certain resources or nutrients have been depleted and will need to be replenished to maintain plant health. 

All crops require zinc, but the amount differs based on the crop, where it is growing and the balanced fertilizer applied to it. Dr. Jake has pinpointed where corn responsiveness would be maximized in terms of zinc application, but other crop varieties will differ.

  • Be aware of the signs of deficiency and, in rare cases, toxicity. The ability to identify problems early on means you can properly address the issue and continue growing a strong, healthy and high-yielding crop. Zinc is especially vital during the early stages of plant growth, so be proactive and scout early to set your fields up for success.  

 

If you’re interested in learning more about zinc use in your crop, check out this Liqui-Grow Loop video. 

Want to learn more about Dr. Jake’s research? Check out this overview or watch his 2023 research results summary. 

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKECU92VdbU

Questions? Give us a shout! 

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.