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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

The Response of Alfalfa to Borax Fertilizer on Illinois Soils1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 19 No. 4, p. 474-477
    Received: Nov 6, 1954

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  1. D. A. Russel,
  2. L. T. Kurtz and
  3. S. W. Melsted2



A 2-year study was made of the response of alfalfa to varying rates of borax fertilizer applied to Illinois soils. Fourteen locations differing in water-soluble boron content, in soil type, and in the type of legume grown were selected; the trials at five of these locations were continued the second year. Borax fertilizer was applied in the spring of the first year (1952) on established legume stands at the rate of 0, 30, 60, and 90 pounds per acre. A randomized blocks design of nine replications was used in measuring the effect of the borax treatment upon seed yield, hay yield, and leaf-to-stem weight ratios. A modified Berger-Truog quinalizarin procedure was used in measuring the water-soluble boron content of the soils. Details of the modification are given.

On soils with low available boron tests, the observed deficiency symptoms were corrected by the applied borax fertilizer. Except for one location, hay yields were not significantly increased by the removal of the deficiency symptoms through borax fertilizer treatment. Seed yields were obtained at only one location, but the data for both 1952 and 1953 indicated that maximum seed production was not obtained even with a 90-pound borax fertilizer treatment. Leaf-to-stem ratios, measured only in 1953, showed some variation with the rate of treatment but the data were not adequate to warrant any conclusions regarding the effect of borax on hay quality.

The general conclusion was that many of the soils in Illinois are at a stage of boron indigence at which boron deficiency symptoms are produced readily, especially under climatic extremes. In only a relatively few cases are the soils low enough in available boron to reduce the yield of alfalfa hay.

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