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Soils that are geologically poor in copper do not provide enough of this mineral for crops. Deficiency is mainly seen in cereals. The quality of fodder grasses may also suffer. Deficiencies can be accurately identified by means of soil or forage analysis and correction is quite easy using the right fertilizer products.
On the other hand, copper is an essential trace element but also a heavy metal and is often used as a fungicide. In soils where it has accumulated excessively, it negatively influences the soil fertility. Excessive use of slurry can cause a surplus of copper in soils.
Copper is mainly involved in photosynthesis in the chloroplasts. A consequence of deficiency is the paling (chlorosis) of the young leaves. Copper is also involved in the formation of cell walls, especially of lignin. Deficiency also results in a lack of rigidity. Finally, copper also plays a key role in protein synthesis. Particularly in cereals, deficiency is visible due to discoloration of the tips of the leaves (white tip disease) and as empty ears at harvest (dysfunction in pollination). Excess copper hinders root development by inhibiting the microbial activity of the rhizosphere. It may also lead to ferric chlorosis. In livestock, deficiency leads to growth disorders, infertility, pica syndrome, anaemia, hair discoloration and a susceptibility to infection.
Copper is not very mobile in the soil and only a small part is absorbed by crops.
INTERACTIONS AND SPECIAL FEATURES
The availability of copper depends partly on its content in the soil, but also on its complexing with organic matter and the possible blockages by antagonisms. Molybdenum, in soils with high pH or an excess of zinc, act as competitors at the root absorption level. Negative interaction between trace elements should be considered when selecting the best combination of trace elements to utilize their full potential.
Granitic and limestone soils are naturally low in copper. A high organic matter content will immobilize copper and reduces its availability. Liming has the same effect. During a hot spring, the risk of yield loss is higher when copper is the limiting factor.
Sensibility table & Symptomes
Copper deficiency is often difficult to detect in early growth stages but is visible in later growth stages, shown by wheat infertility for example. Symptoms include a white discoloration of the tips of the youngest leaves, followed by disorders in spiking that can lead to empty ears. In general, the deficiency mainly affects newly developed tissues, due to the low mobility of copper in the plant.
Excess & Needs
Excess copper is dangerous for sheep. Even for crops that are demanding in copper such as cereals, excess can be detrimental, especially for durum wheat.
Copper is often present in the form of sulphide in magmatic rocks. However, concentration in rocks is low and therefore not exploited. Copper deposits have been exploited by humans for more than 4,000 years. Foliar application is recommended for plant nutrition, which allows efficient use of the units provided, as well as a responsible management of this resource. In this way, it can be applied to sensitive crops at the right time in a precise manner.
PROCESS OF FABRICATION
In fertilizers, the oxychloride form, moderately concentrated, has proven to be the best agronomic and economic formulation to prevent deficiencies without developing unnecessary or detrimental accumulation.
EDTA extraction effectively determines plant available Cu in the soil solution. Consider the following thresholds:
In soils rich in organic matter (>2.5%), the minimum content is 2ppm.
In soils with moderate organic matter (1.8-2.5%), the minimum content is 1.4ppm.
In soils with poor in organic matter content (<1.8%), the minimum content is 1ppm.
ORGANIC MATTER CONTENT
This is the main factor determining the availability of Cu. Cu is the mineral element that is most complexed by organic matter, humic and fulvic acids. High contents of organic matter tend to make Cu unavailable to plants.
Soils with coarse textures, low clay and silt levels, sandy soils and highly leaching soils are sensitive to deficiency. In this sense, calcareous soils, chalk soils with high pH and particularly if they are rich in organic matter, are also sensitive to deficiency. Finally, organic and peaty soils are highly problematic for the availability of Cu.
Dry periods diminish the availability of Cu.
A rise in pH diminishes the solubility of copper and the amount of Cu2+ in the soil solution. But deficiencies can also be observed in acid and sandy soils if prone to leaching.