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Influence of soil temperature and moisture on micronutrient supply, plant uptake, and biomass yield of wheat, pea, and canola

Rahman, M. N., R. D. Hangs, and J. Schoenau. 2020.


Crop yield response to micronutrient fertilization is difficult to predict, particularly under unfavorable environmental conditions as these may alter both crop nutrient demand and the soil micronutrient supply to plant roots. The research objective was to evaluate the effect of various soil temperature and moisture conditions on crop growth response to added micronutrient copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and boron (B) along with soil micronutrient supply and distribution among fractions. Brown and Dark Brown farm soils collected from southern Saskatchewan were used to grown wheat, pea and canola within controlled environment chambers. The biomass yields of all crops decreased under cold soil temperature and moisture stress (drought and saturated) conditions. Greater plant uptake of Cu, Zn, and B was associated with optimum (i.e., field capacity) soil moisture and warm temperature (23°C) growing conditions, compared to drought (i.e., 50% field capacity), saturated, and cold (5°C) temperature conditions. Environmental stress had the greatest impact on pea growth, reducing crop yield and micronutrient utilization efficiency more than 95%. Soil supplies of Cu and Zn were most negatively impacted by drought stress due to reduced mobility of these diffusion limited nutrients. The extractable micronutrients levels and chemical speciation fractions of Cu, Zn, and B indicating that bioavailability and micronutrient transformation were not affected during our short-term (i.e., six-weeks) study. However, it is suggested that assessments of micronutrient forms also be conducted on soil samples under actual moisture and temperature conditions as they exist in the experiment, as well as on dried, processed samples.

Key Words

Biomass, field capacity, micronutrient, mobility and bioavailability, moisture, temperature