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Risks of boron toxicity in canola and lupin by forms of boron application in acid sands of south-western Australia

Brennan, R.F., Bell, R.W. and Frost, K. (2015) Risks of boron toxicity in canola and lupin by forms of boron application in acid sands of south-western Australia. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 38 (6). pp. 920-937.

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Boron (B) deficiency frequently occurs on soils that are low in organic carbon (C) (<1.0% organic C), pH (soil pHCa <5.0), and clay content (<5% clay). Acid sands with these soil properties are common in south-western Australia (SWA). Moreover, hot calcium chloride (CaCl2) extractable B levels are commonly marginal in the acid sands of SWA. This study examined the effects of soluble and slow release soil-applied B fertilizer and foliar B sprays on crops most likely to respond to B fertilizer on these soils, canola (oil-seed rape, Brassica napus L.) and lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.).

At 25 sites over three years, canola was grown with (0.34 kg ha-1) or without B applied as borax [sodium tetraborate decahydrate (Na2B4O7·10H2O) 11% B], and this was followed by nine experiments with B rates [0, 0.55, 1.1 kg ha−1, applied as borax or calcium borate (ulexite, NaCaB5O6(OH)6·5(H2O), 13% B] and foliar sprays (0.1% solution of solubor, 23% B) in 2000–2001. A further five sites of B rates and sources experiments were carried out with lupin in 2000–2001. Finally, foliar B sprays (5% B w/v as a phenolic complex) at flowering were tested on seven sites in farmers’ canola crops for seed yield increases. No seed yield increases to soil-applied B were found while foliar B application at flowering increased canola seed yield in only one season across seven locations. By contrast, borax fertilizer drilled with the seed at sowing decreased canola seed yield in nine of 34-farm sites, and decreased lupin yield in two of five trials. Toxicity from drilled boron fertilizer decreased yield could be explained by decreases in plant density (by 22–40%) to values lower than required for optimum seed yield. Seedling emergence was decreased by borax applied at sowing but less so by calcium borate. Foliar B spray application never reduced seed yield due to toxicity effects.

Boron fertilizer drilled with the seed increased the B concentration in plant dry matter at early to mid-flowering. Boron application decreased the oil concentration of grain of canola at four sites. The oil yield of canola was significantly decreased at seven sites.

Notwithstanding the marginal B levels on acid sands of the SWA region, care needs to be taken on use of borax fertilizer as toxicity was induced in canola and lupin; with 0.34 to 1 kg B ha−1(3-10 kg borax ha−1) at sowing depressing seed yield, mostly by decreasing plant density. Rather than making general recommendation for B fertilizer application based on 0.01M CaCl2 soil extractable B, soil and plant analysis should be used to diagnose B deficiency and B fertilizer use limited to calcium borate or foliar borax rather than soil-applied borax on low B sands

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: © 2015, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
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