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Conservation through cultivation

Molybdenum secret ingredient for plant growth?




We know plants need many different nutrients besides the basic three in most fertilizers. Molybdenum is one of those ingredients. Trace amounts of molybdenum are needed to help plants take up nitrogen. It also turns out in tropical forests molybdenum exists in the soil in far greater amounts than is needed by plants. The molybdenum helps to change the nitrogen in the air into nitrogen in the soil that can be used by plants.

It was believed that molybdenum deficiency in plants was best treated with foliar sprays, in light of the new information you might consider adding to the soil as well.

. . . Until now, scientists had thought that phosphorus was the key element supporting the prodigious expansion of rainforests, according to Lars Hedin, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University who led the research. But an experiment testing the effects of various elements on test plots in lowland rainforests on the Gigante Peninsula in the Barro Colorado Nature Monument in Panama showed that areas treated with molybdenum withdrew more nitrogen from the atmosphere than other elements.

“We were surprised,” said Hedin, who is also a professor in the Princeton Environmental Institute. “It’s not what we were expecting.”

The report is detailed in the Dec. 7 online edition of Nature Geoscience.

Molybdenum, the team found, is essential for controlling the biological conversion of nitrogen in the atmosphere into natural soil nitrogen fertilizer, which in turn spurs plant growth. “Just like trace amounts of vitamins are essential for human health, this exceedingly rare trace metal is indispensable for the vital function of tropical rainforests in the larger Earth system,” Hedin said. Molybdenum is 10,000 times less abundant than phosphorus and other major nutrients in these ecosystems. . . .Secret ingredient for the health of tropical rainforests discovered ( read more )

See also:
The role of molybdenum in agricultural plant production
Molybdenum in Idaho ( Essential plant and animal micronutrients )(pdf)