Advances in Soil Science

Volume 1 of the series Advances in Soil Science pp 229-276

Boron in Water, Soils, and Plants

  • R. KerenAffiliated withThe Volcani Center, Institute of Soils and Water, ARO
  • , F. T. BinghamAffiliated withDepartment of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of California

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Boron is one of the seven essential micronutrients required for the normal growth of most plants. Boron has a marked effect on plants, from the standpoint of both plant nutrition—if boron is deficient in soil—and toxicity—if it is present in excessive amounts. There is a relatively small range between levels of soil boron causing deficiency and toxicity symptoms in plants. Of deficiencies of the known essential micronutrients, boron deficiency in plants is most widespread. The deficiency of boron has been reported for one or more crops in 43 states of the United States (Sparr, 1970) and in many countries of the world. McMurtrey (1948) lists the visual symptoms of a number of crops, and in nearly all, the main visual symptoms of boron deficiency are that terminal growth ceases, internodes become shortened, and the plant often acquires a rosetted (bushy) appearance. It is essential to remember that with boron, as with phosphorus and several other plant nutrient elements, deficiency may be present long before visual deficiency symptoms occur. Some of the most severe disorders caused by boron deficiency include brown-heart of rutabaga (Brassica napobrassica L. Mill), and internal brown-spot of sweet potatoes (Iponoea batatas L. Lam).