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Re: CULT: trace elements

  • Subject: Re: CULT: trace elements
  • From: Linda Mann <lmann@icx.net>
  • Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 18:35:30 -0400

There are a couple of issues to think about as far as trace elements go:
1) trace element requirements vary from one kind of plant to another,
and 2) trace element content and availability vary from one kind of soil
to another.

To my knowledge, no detailed studies of trace element requirements of
irises have been done.  And it's possible that the requirements among
different species of irises are not the same.  If the ancestral species
of bearded irises have different trace element requirements, who knows
what a mix might be in modern hybrids.  I've seen some research that
found some cultivars of agricultural crops have different trace element
requirements, so it could be that there are differences in requirements
for different cultivars of species of iris as well.

Trace elements in different soil types come from various sources, mostly
from the original rocks that have weathered to make the soil, but also
from deposition of dust, fly ash from industrial smoke stacks,
fertilizer, etc etc.  If you are gardening in an area with complex
geology, trace element content may vary a lot among soil types.  Also,
the availability of trace elements varies with the pH with some becoming
less available at high pH and vice versa.  They are called trace
elements because if there is more than a trace present, they are toxic
to plants, so you don't want to be adding a lot before finding out if
your plants don't have enough.

The good news is that most garden soils probably have enough of most
trace elements in most places for growing most plants <g>  If you are in
an area where any  trace elements are in short supply for growing
plants, your local garden center may know what is most likely to be
missing.  Better sources of information are local farm stores, ag
extension offices, and ag universities in your state.  Introductory soil
science books often have maps showing which regions of the country are
known to be low in trace elements for particular crops.  For example,
this area is low in boron for corn production.  But it only takes about
a teaspoon of borax per acre to provide enough additional boron for

The only situation where I would always use fertilizer with trace
elements included would be in sand culture or in areas where it rains so
much that all nutrients are being steadily leached out of the soil (like
here most years).

I am intrigued by the Ernst article about using sulfur.  Wish I knew
more about soil sulfur dynamics - time to go to the library.

.. etc....etc...

Linda Mann east Tennessee USA zone 7/8

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