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Iron is necessary for many enzyme functions and as a catalyst for the synthesis of chlorophyll. It is essential for the young growing parts of plants. Deficiencies are pale leaf colour of young leaves followed by yellowing of leaves and large veins. Iron is lost by leaching and is held in the lower portions of the soil structure. Under conditions of high pH (alkaline) iron is rendered unavailable to plants. When soils are alkaline, iron may be abundant but unavailable. Applications of an acid nutrient formula containing iron chelates, held in soluble form should correct the deficiency.

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Manganese is involved in enzyme activity for photosynthesis, respiration, and nitrogen metabolism. Deficiency in young leaves may show a network of green veins on a light green background similar to an iron deficiency. In the advanced stages the light green parts become white and leaves are shed. Brownish, black or greyish spots may appear next to the veins . In neutral or alkaline soils, plants often show deficiency symptoms. In highly acid soils, manganese may be available to the extent that it results in toxicity.

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Boron is necessary for cell wall formation, membrane integrity, calcium uptake and may aid in the translocation of sugars. Boron affects at least 16 functions in plants. These functions include flowering, pollen germination, fruiting, cell division, water relationships and the movement of hormones. Boron must be available throughout the life of the plant. It is not translocated and is easily leached from soils. Deficiencies kill terminal buds leaving a rosette effect on the plant. Leaves are thick, curled and brittle. Fruits, tubers and roots are discoloured, cracked and flecked with brown spots.

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Zinc is a component of enzymes or a functional cofactor of a large number of enzymes including auxins plant growth hormones). It is essential to carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis and internodal elongation (stem growth). Deficient plants have the mottled leaves with irregular chlorotic areas. Zinc deficiency leads to iron deficiency causing similar problems. Deficiency occurs on eroded soils and is least available at a PH range of 5.5 - 7.0. Lowering the pH can render zinc more available to the point of toxicity.

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Copper is concentrated in roots of plants and plays a part in nitrogen metabolism. It is a component of several enzyme systems that use carbohydrates and proteins. Deficiencies cause die back of the shoot tips, and terminal leaves develop brown spots. Copper is bound tightly in organic matter and may be deficient in highly organic soils. It is not readily lost from soil but may often be unavailable. Too much copper can cause toxicity.

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Molybdenum is a structural component of the enzyme that reduces nitrates to ammonia. Without it, the synthesis of proteins is blocked and plant growth ceases. Root nodule (nitrogen fixing) bacteria also require it. Seeds may not form completely and nitrogen deficiency may occur if plants are lacking molybdenum. Deficiency signs are the pale green leaves with rolled or cupped margins.

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Chlorine is involved in osmosis (movement of water or solutes in cells), the ionic balance necessary for plants to take up mineral elements and in photosynthesis. deficiency symptoms include wilting , stubby roots, chlorosis (yellowing) and bronzing. Odours in some plants may decrease. Chloride, the ionic form of chlorine used by plants, is usually found in soluble forms and is lost by leaching. Some plants may show signs of toxicity if levels are too high.

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Sodium is involved in osmotic and ionic balance in plants.

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Cobalt is required for nitrogen fixation in legumes and in the root nodules of non legumes. The demand for cobalt id much higher for nitrogen fixation than for ammonium nutrition. Deficient levels could result in nitrogen deficiency symptoms.



Silicon is found as a component of cell walls. Plants with supplies of soluble silicon produce stronger, tougher cell walls making them a mechanical barrier to piercing and sucking insects. It also enhances plant heat and drought tolerance. Foliar sprays of silicon have also shown benefits in reducing populations of aphids on field crops. Studies have found that silicon can be deposited by the plants at the site of infection by fungus to combat the penetration of the cell walls by the attacking fungus. Improved leaf erectness, stem strength and prevention of iron and manganese toxicity have all been noted as effects from silicon. Silicon has not been determined essential for all plants but may be beneficial for many.

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