A study of the effect of intensive cropping and the use of pure chemicals on the need for so-called "minor elements" on certain soil types and the effect of natural Chilean nitrate of soda in eliminating this need

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Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute


The appearance of synthetic fertilizers on the market has increased the interest in the so-called "minor elements". Much work with water and sand cultures has proven the necessity of these elements for successful plant growth. However, the need for these elements in crop production on field soils has not been studied intensively, nor have we sufficient knowledge as to the effect of our changing fertilizer practices on the necessity for minor elements.

A number of field studies to determine the necessity of boron, manganese, zinc, copper and ether minor elements, when applied singly or in combinations of two or more, have given phenomenal increases in yields under certain plant and soil conditions. Under other conditions there has been no response from their use when applied to the soil either singly or in combinations of two or more elements. It is the purpose of this study to determine under what soil conditions the need of minor elements becomes a part of our soil management problem and what part natural Chilean nitrate of soda plays in preventing and correcting this condition. Also this investigation was developed to give a comparison of yield and growth of various crops grown intensively on a number of soil types where fertilized with purified carriers of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and where these elements were supplied from commonly used commercial carriers. Another purpose of this study was to determine how long these soils could be cropped before minor elements would become a limiting factor in crop production as shown by yields and deficiency symptoms.