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On-Farm Evaluation of Boron Response in Corn & Sugar Beets

Study author(s): Dan Kaiser, University of Minnesota, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate
Years active: 2016
Location(s): various

Important: for the complete report, including all tables and figures, please download using the links to the right.

Background Info

Reports of low boron concentrations in corn plant tissue have been common in recent years. There is no established guidelines for boron applications for corn in Minnesota. With higher crop yield, farmers are continually being marketed boron as a way to further increase yield. Plant analysis has become an increasingly larger tool used to promote the sales of boron. Critical plant tissue sufficiency levels can be easily maipulated to ensure B concentration are considered “low.” Research identifying crop response as related to soil test and lant tissue boron concentration is needed to identify whether there is a direct correlation to crop yield response to the given variables. On-farm research can be useful for correlation studies to gauge the impacts of fertilizer management across varying soil properties within and across fields.


  1. Scale up research from small plots to on-farm replicated large plots.
  2. Develop and establish field and data protocols for on-farm research using boron as a test variable to evaluate corn tissue and grain yield response to boron application.
  3. Use an on-farm program to validate current and new nutrient application guidelines and management suggestions (particularly for boron).

Key Findings

The data suggests that there should be little concern that B is limiting the yield of corn and sugarbeet across Minnesota. Soil tests for B were relatively low at a few irrigated corn locations but yield responses could not be tied to a specific correlation or B in the soil (a critical level could not be determined). More research is being conducted to determine if there is a concentration of B in teh soil where a response to B in corn woudl occur. Care should be taken when interpreting soil and plant tissue test results as critical levels have not been established for either test based on yield response data. The data suggests that soil tests as low as 0.08 ppm and tissue tests as low as 4 ppm should provide adequate B to maximize corn grain yield.

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