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Trace element requirements for pastures in various parts of Victoria are assessed from knowledge of the soil type, local trials and plant tissue testing.
Although only required in small amounts, trace elements (or micronutrients) are essential for plant growth. These nutrients often act as catalysts in chemical reactions. It is possible to have toxicities of trace elements, as well as deficiencies. Particular trace element deficiencies are generally restricted to specific soil types or localities. A deficiency will reduce the growth and yield potential of pasture plants. An excess of a trace element, although not common, may be toxic to the plant and may cause an imbalance, reduced yield, impaired quality or increased susceptibility to disease.
The trace elements considered to be essential for plant growth include molybdenum, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, boron, chloride, sodium and cobalt.
Trace elements are also necessary for animals as well as plants. In fact some of the trace element deficiencies in plants can cause nutrient deficiencies in the animals that graze those plants.