Despite being one of the 17 nutrients essential for overall plant health, manganese is one of the more misunderstood elements in agriculture. It is often confused with its better-known and similarly spelled cousin, magnesium. And even though it’s needed only in small quantities by plants, manganese is vital in several critical physiological processes, especially photosynthesis, catalyzing water-splitting, where water splits into essential elemental parts. It also helps synthesize lignin, an important organic polymer that helps strengthen the thin walls of the plant, making a hardier and woodier stand that can better resist stresses caused by drought, heat, or disease.
For these reasons alone, it’s important to understand the role that manganese plays in plant health and the high costs that a manganese deficiency will mean to overall yields.
Recognizing Manganese Deficiencies
Most soils contain enough manganese to support healthy plant life. Unfortunately, in many cases, the manganese in the soil is unavailable to the plant because of the pH of the soil. Manganese is highly pH-dependent; as each pH unit increases, the manganese amount decreases by about 100 times. Manganese must be in a form that the plants can utilize. If the pH is too high, it’s probably not available. Dry or sandy soil conditions will further exacerbate the problem, reducing manganese availability. Manganese also shares an adversarial relationship with magnesium and lime; adding magnesium or calcium oxide to a field can inhibit manganese uptake.
Because manganese has relatively low mobility, symptoms of deficiency will likely appear in the plant's new growth. The most common symptoms of a manganese deficiency are leaves that turn pale green between the veins. As the deficiency progresses, the area between the veins may turn paler and eventually brown. Some crops, including small grains and soybeans, are susceptible to a manganese deficiency. In corn, deficient plants will appear stunted, with leaves that turn pale yellow, and white flecks appearing in interveinal chlorotic areas.
Treating Manganese Deficiencies
Manganese availability is influenced by both temperature and moisture in the soil, making it essential to test both soil and plant tissues to determine if a deficiency is occurring. If soils are deficient, apply manganese either as chelated manganese or as manganese sulfate at about 0.5 to two pounds per acre. A second foliar application may be necessary for extreme deficiency situations.
At Agnition, we understand the importance of manganese and other vital micronutrients to drive crop growth. That’s why manganese is found across our product line; from seed-treatment to in-furrow & foliar solutions. Including these products as part of a routine fertilizer program ensures that the microbes in the root zone have the micronutrients necessary to increase the flow of nutrients and water into crops.
The micronutrients are available to the microbes because they deliver to the root zone through our patented Microbial Catalyst® technology that stimulates existing microbes by unlocking enzymes, making plants more efficient. This technology takes minerals such as manganese and delivers them in a completely soluble and available form for plants and microbes.