Ever since the first boron article I get many questions on its necessity, more than any other micronutrient. It may be a micro but it is essential for higher plants (and humans). Unfortunately it is one of the least important nutrients with regard to its functions and one of the least understood of all the trace elements.
During the mid-1900s, as we learned to control atomic energy and radiation, Boron, was shown to absorb atomic particles without changing the neutron. This capacity for absorbing radiation makes boron a mineral for our times.
In nuclear reactors scientists learned how to control neutrons involved in fission. Boron rods are still absolutely necessary to keep nuclear reactions in power plants under control. In nuclear reactions, the rate of fission is controlled by the depth of boron rods in the reactors. In regards to human and plant health maintenance, the presence or absence of boron in has a big effect on metabolic function.
Boron in Plant Health
It is the only non-metallic micro-nutrient.
Boron is anionic and highly leachable. It should be applied every year, preferably in-conjunction with calcium and or humates.
Boron is known as the calcium helper and for the metabolism of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. If calcium is the trucker of minerals, boron is the driver.
Boron is easily displaced by aluminum, losing three boron molecules for every aluminum molecule. Using by-product liming agents that have high aluminum will reduce available boron.
Low Boron reduces growth of soil bacteria.
Without boron, plant cells may continue to divide, but structural components are not differentiated. This means the plant has a hard time making xylem tissue. This leads to plugging of sap vessels and cross-transfer of plant fluids among vessels. Sort of like clogged arteries in humans, and in plants leads to poor movement of sap, sugar and carbohydrates in the plant.
This reduction in cellular differentiation leads to compromised meristematic cell elongation, which also reduces flowering and pollination, notably growth of pollen tubes. This affects timing of maturity, pollination, reproduction and ultimately yield. Boron in conjunction with Ca influences reproductive process.
Low boron causes low lignin in the plants. Lignin leads to sturdier plant stalks.
Low boron compromises cell membrane function. Like Calcium, Boron is non mobile in plants and a continuous supply is needed. Cell walls contain 90% of plant Boron and provide structural linkages within cell walls, stabilizing membranes. Boron keeps calcium in the cell walls, calcium pectates do not form in the absence of boron. Low boron increases fungal invasion of the cell
Calcium deficiency alone favored the colonization of plants but disease severity was greater when calcium and boron were deficient
Boron deficiency leads to higher incidences of:
Powdery Mildew, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Verticillium among others.
When pesticides are needed to control pathogens, Boron increases the efficacy of many fungicides. How this is done is still unknown.
Boron protects from oxidation and free radical damage. Yes plants experience free radical and radiation damage. Boron acts as a natural radiation absorber.
Low Boron reduces the shikimic acid pathways. In plants that have their shikimate pathways compromised from herbicide,s having boron at adequate levels is critical.
Been applying lots of zinc but no boron? Zinc applications reduce boron uptake, and can reduce boron toxicity. Conversely Boron can reduce zinc in the rhizosphere, so make sure you keep your zinc levels up.
Low pH soil, and/or excess phosphorus, and/or excess potassium, and/or high pH can reduce boron uptake
Optimum boron is achieved most precisely through tissue sampling.
Human Health Impacts
Boron supports blood brain barrier health, helps remove toxins from the brain, and enhances memory.
It Elevates testosterone and assists in the production of natural steroid compounds.
Boron relaxes the arteries and increases electrocoductivity of the heart.
It activates vitamin D.
Protects from oxidation and free radical damage.
Required in trace amounts for healthy bones and muscle growth.
Boron plays a part in the body’s sugar metabolism.
Boron is needed for the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
USDA research reveals that 3 milligrams of boron supplemented each day drastically reduces urinary loss calcium and magnesium. It is the not having enough magnesium in the system that can lead to arthritis and kidney stones.
Deficiency sings may include ADD/ADHD, osteoporosis, arthritis, fatigue, decrease short term memory and brain function.
Foods that should be high in Boron
(but likely are not since I have never seen a soils analysis with adequate boron)
Plum, Strawberry (if they are hollow in the middle they are low in boron), peach, cabbage, apple (most apples are short in calcium so…) asparagus (same as apples) celery, Tomato (same as apple), pear, beets, cherry, cauliflower,