Micronutrient benefits are going well beyond yield increases. Dr. Julian Smith, domestic sales director at Brandt Consolidated, says crop quality is equally as important — for example, the protein content in small grains. In fact, as U.S. crop exports to underdeveloped countries surge once more, global agencies such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations are closely monitoring incoming foods in these regions for the best levels of manganese, zinc and iron for human health.
Smith would add: “As agronomists we’re way past the day of solving micronutrient deficiencies only. We’re into managing the response or expression of the genetics of the crop by using these products as very viable management tools. This is the most exciting area of plant physiological work now.”
He notes that the door is now open for physiologists to look at unconventional applications of micronutrients. One example would be the use of copper to enhance photosynthesis and other cellular functions that assist gene expression. “The trick is going to be to take all this wonderful high-falutin’ science and making it a practical farm reality,” he chuckles.