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The Famous Calcium-Boron Connection

Boron for Your Soil


Soil Boron levels are seldom correct. Most of the world experiences Boron deficiency, however, there are notable exceptions.

Woodland, Ca. is the largest in our area followed by small pockets such as in Butte City and Princeton Ca. where soil excesses are caused by groundwater high in Boron applied thru irrigation.

Where boron is deficient it’s because the Boron ion has a negative charge just like your soil and readily leaches away, just as sulfate sulfur and nitrate nitrogen. This is especially true when soil Calcium levels are correct which in turn encourages good water infiltration and internal drainage.

That said, high soil levels of Boron and its toxic effects can be mitigated ( lessen) by correcting low Calcium soil levels. Calcium acts as a buffer, in this case, reducing its negative effects. The use of lime for low soil Calcium levels and Gypsum where soil Calcium levels are close to being optimum are required.

Elevated soil Boron can be caused by conditions other than through groundwater applications. Any soil that has poor water infiltration and poor internal drainage is a candidate. This could be caused by elevated levels of Sodium and or perched water tables. Clues to this condition are elevated Sulfur levels, as they go hand in hand.

Now, the rest of the Boron story.
Boron is an important soil mineral that promotes plant rooting, enhances pollen formation and contributes to overall plant health. However, its biggest asset is its ability to get Calcium and all other minerals into the plant. Calcium is responsible for thicker cell walls that help control insect and disease. This is huge in our quest to reduce synthetic use. Another important mineral uptake would be Potassium. Our tree crops in Northern California (Walnuts, Almonds, Pistachios) are large users of this mineral. Another is Magnesium which is the center of the chlorophyll molecule and is required for maximum photosynthesis, this is also enhanced by the presence of Boron. An active biological system accelerates these phenomena.

A common misconception is that high Ph soils, which most of you have, must have an abundance of soluble Calcium, why else would the Ph be so high when in fact it’s the excess Magnesium that is the cause. So, bottom line is that a soluble form of Calcium along with Boron in the presence of a carbon source should be a regular application. This carbon source can be Humic acids, Compost or Humified Protein (Soil Gro).

So one can see that there is a Calcium-Boron relationship that plays multiple roles in building healthy plants

This issue isn’t as tricky as it appears. But it does take an experienced practitioner to implement.

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Gary Foster