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Importance of Micronutrients in Soil: Boron, Manganese and Sulfur


Digging beneath the surface of your corn and soybean plants is helpful, but analyzing soil samples at the lab brings field insights to a whole new level. A handful of nutrients are critical for crop production, including sulfur, boron and manganese. Though these nutrients aren’t always emphasized as much as other elements, they still play a big role in healthy corn and soybean development.

Golden Harvest collected more than 1,200 on-farm soil samples from 2016 to 2017, and here is a snapshot of the 3 nutrient test results in discussion:

  • Sulfur: 18% of soil samples contained low levels
  • Boron: 84% of soil samples contained low to very low levels 
  • Manganese: 52% of samples contained low to very low levels

To help illustrate the value of sulfur, boron and manganese, the chart below outlines primary nutrient functions along with deficiency symptoms and environmental triggers.

Correcting Nutrient Deficiencies

First, conduct a soil or tissue test to confirm any micronutrient deficiencies — sulfur and boron leach easily in most soils. Plants need boron and manganese in smaller quantities, and deficiencies can be corrected with a soil or in-season foliar application. Sulfur is a macronutrient needed in larger quantities, and you can correct levels by by adding a mixture of liquid and granular fertilizer or dry fertilizer to your standard fertility program. 

The image above illustrates how sulfur deficiencies lead to yellowing leaves and stunting of corn plants.

When in-season nutrient deficiencies occur, you can often combine a micronutrient product with a post-emergence herbicide or fungicide application. It is best to take proactive measures and plan your fertility program from fall soil samples. Contact your local Golden Harvest Seed Advisor for product recommendations, rates application timings and approved tank-mixes. Photos are either the property of Syngenta or used under agreement.

Syngenta hereby disclaims liability for third-party websites.

© 2022 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label and bag tag instructions; only those labeled as tolerant to glufosinate may be sprayed with glufosinate ammonium-based herbicides. LibertyLink®, Liberty® and the Water Droplet logo are registered trademarks of BASF. HERCULEX® and the HERCULEX Shield are trademarks of Corteva Agriscience LLC. HERCULEX Insect Protection technology by Corteva Agriscience LLC. Under federal and local laws, only dicamba-containing herbicides registered for use on dicamba-tolerant varieties may be applied. See product labels for details and tank mix partners. Golden Harvest® and NK® soybean varieties are protected under granted or pending U.S. variety patents and other intellectual property rights, regardless of the trait(s) within the seed. The Enlist E3® soybean, LibertyLink®, LibertyLink® GT27®, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield® and XtendFlex® soybean traits may be protected under numerous United States patents. It is unlawful to save soybeans containing these traits for planting or transfer to others for use as a planting seed. Only dicamba formulations that employ VaporGrip® Technology are approved for use with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® and XtendFlex® soybeans. Only 2,4-D choline formulations with Colex-D® Technology are approved for use with Enlist E3® soybeans. The trademarks or service marks displayed or otherwise used herein are the property of a Syngenta Group Company. ENLIST E3® soybean technology is jointly developed with Corteva Agriscience LLC and M.S. Technologies, L.L.C. The ENLIST trait and ENLIST Weed Control System are technologies owned and developed by Corteva Agriscience LLC. ENLIST® and ENLIST E3® are trademarks of Corteva Agriscience LLC. GT27® is a trademark of M.S. Technologies, L.L.C. and BASF. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend®, Roundup Ready 2 Yield®, XtendFlex® and YieldGard VT Pro® are registered trademarks used under license from the Bayer Group. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. More information about Agrisure Duracade® is available at


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