Are your crops getting the micronutrients they need when they need them? A recent Purdue University study suggests that it may be past time to pay more attention to micronutrient availability – if you plan to manage the high-yield details.

"Increased yield levels are resulting in higher nutrient removal rate in the grain. In particular, where there is no regular history of manure application, we need to pay more attention to the soil's capacity to meet nutrient removal needs," says Tony Vyn, co-author of the study and professor of agronomy, Purdue University.

Just as high-yielding hybrids take up more nitrogen, they also take up more micronutrients such as zinc, iron, manganese and copper. Vyn suggests that micronutrients could be a yield-limiting factor under high-potential environments. Although many soils have supported crops without any signs of nutrient deficiencies in over a century, bigger plants and more grain harvested mean more micronutrients exported, eventually leading to depletion and deficiency. Sometimes contaminants in lime or macro-nutrient fertilizers applications, or even mineral weathering, can help restore some soil micronutrient concentrations. Knowing the soil test levels for essential micronutrients is a place to start the diagnosis.