Today we want to talk about Copper. It’s a very necessary element and levels generally increase with the clay content in soils. Available Copper is associated with organic matter in mineral type soils. Copper is contained in several important enzymes in plants. It is involved in not only photosynthesis but also chlorophyll. Therefore, it’s a part of the enzyme system. Copper is very important because if we shut those things down we end up with a plant not performing at optimum production. It also helps increase the sugar content in the fruits and vegetables. (Which is an indicator of plant health) Want an added bonus? It will also help keep pests away, healthier plant will be less attacked by bugs, fungus, and bacteria.
Copper is the perfect example of how every nutrient impacts other nutrients; the idea of one nutrient being the key to success is simply not true. Like I have said before, if our pickup has rust on it, we do not have a paint deficiency. Applying a lot of paint may cover the rust, but it doesn’t fix the problem.
Canadian studies have shown an interdependency between Copper and Manganese. Crops frequently do respond to Copper applications, especially in high organic matter soils. We want to make sure that our crops have Copper to get the enzyme systems going, it’s also important to remember that heavy Copper applications may result in a Manganese deficiency. The addition of Manganese can actually release Copper helping the plant roots to absorb it. (So, in other words, if we have a Copper deficiency, it might be improved by the application of adequate Manganese.) This is why we have to do the soil tests and then do everything they call for. Since they impact each other, it’s crucial that when a test calls for a half a pint of copper and two pints of manganese, that we do both.
If we listen to Dr. Anderson as he talks out of The Anatomy of Life and Energy and Agriculture, he says that “Copper is the key to elasticity in a plant as well as mold control.” How do we improve standability? Well, anything that hurts plant health decreases standability. Two of the nutrients that would be heavily involved in plant health would be Potassium and Copper. We want a plant that will bend but not break and elasticity is key to that. If we listen to Neal Kinsey, in Hands On Agronomy, he states how Nitrogen affects Copper. Excessive amounts of N will tie up Copper. Copper is what confers stock strength to the plant. That’s why a field that gets Nitrogen in the proper amount will look very different from one that gets too much N. Combined with that, a lack of copper, and a deficiency of K makes stocks unhealthy. Pay attention to that. There’s a relationship between the over use of N and the availability of getting Copper into that plant. Everything works together.
From the Soil Up, Don Schriefer mentions how we have set the soil level standards for Copper between 2 and 3 parts per million. Soil test levels throughout the Midwest are generally showing less than 2 parts per million. Tissue tests are often reflecting the lower soil values and the trend is the same in the corn and small grains.
Often times in agriculture, we get told a pound is a pound the world around, which quite frankly isn’t true. If a pound is a pound the world around, why would we not just take pennies and sling them in our corn field? Because, it would take years and years for them to break down to even think about getting in a form the corn plant can use. This is why I’m not a fan of dry copper sulfate…there are six million, two hundred and some thousand square inches in an acre of ground. If we go out and spread four pounds of anything, what are the odds of that corn plant finding it? Slim. So what the better alternative? Chelated Copper in the seed trench in the proper amount that because your corn plant is going to find it because it’s right where it needs it.
So to wrap things up, If you’re Copper deficient..
- Photosynthesis and chlorophyll are being slowed
- You’re more likely to be attacked by bugs, fungus, and bacteria
- It might be improved by the application of adequate Manganese
- Your Nitrogen utilization could be negatively impacted
- Your plant health and standability is being decreased
Let’s fix your Copper deficiency in 2019 because it will be a big bang for your buck is. We would be honored to help you do that. Feel free to comment here or text/call 641-919-1206.