Keywords: Micronutrients, Trace elements, Suspension concentrates, Chelates, Frits, Impregnation, Foliar application.
The main objective of this paper is to review the major growth and technical developments in micronutrient product types over the last three decades, mainly in Europe but latterly in other developed and emerging agricultural regions world-wide. Micronutrients are required in very small amounts compared to the other fertiliser nutrients which are routinely applied to crops. Furthermore their chemical nature makes them particularly susceptible to chemical interactions in soils and adverse climatic conditions which can reduce their availability to crops.
For these reasons, they are very well suited to application by foliar treatments which can effectively supply micronutrients directly to the crop. Consequently this is where the growth and diversification of micronutrient product types has been greatest.
From the author’s position and perspective, technical innovation has been and is the major driving force in micronutrient product type development.
The routine methodology which was, and continues to be, applied successfully to develop new micronutrient product types is also outlined. This methodology was used to demonstrate that the incorporation of surfactants/adjuvants as co-formulants into micronutrient products improves nutrient uptake and crop safety as well as ease and efficiency of use.
Furthermore it is demonstrated how this same methodology enabled the technical development of an innovative and multi-faceted product type – the Suspension Concentrate – based on sparingly soluble inorganic micronutrient sources.
This paper also reveals the rich seam of chemical technologies on which the current array of micronutrient product types is based, and from which those of the future will be realised. Agronomic selection of which micronutrient product type to use can only be based on which fits best and gives a good return on investment for each particular production situation.
Finally technical innovation and development should always be focussed on the design of micronutrient product types which best meet the requirements and demands of efficient and sustainable agricultural production.
K Moran PhD, Phosyn plc., Pocklington, York, UK.
24 Pages, 10 Figures, 8 Tables, 43 References.