The Global Perspective

Essential for Life

What We Know

The Three Most Effected Cereal Crops

What We Can Do

A New Product Range

The Experience of Our Customers

What Makes Rapid Zinc Special

The Science of Rapid Zinc

Summary of Features and Benefits


Zinc is a trace element found in varying concentrations in all soils, plants and animals and is essential for all forms of life.

Zinc is needed in small but critical concentrations and if the amount available is not adequate, plant and animal life will suffer from the physiological stresses brought about by the dysfunction of enzyme systems and metabolic functions in which zinc plays an important part.

Relatively speaking, this is only a recently discovered scientific fact – with it first being established in the 1940's – however acceptance of this deficiency by many affected countries has only grown since the discovery of widespread zinc deficiency problems in the rice crop, although wheat and corn crops are known to be similarly affected. This has only been within the past 30 years or so.

Some keys points linked to the discovery of widespread zinc deficiency were that it appeared :

  • to be linked to the intensification of farming in many developing countries
  • to have been brought about by the change from traditional agriculture, which relied upon locally-adapted
    crop varieties with low inputs of nutrients, to more modern and higher yielding plant varieties that used
    relatively large amounts of farm fertilisers and agricultural chemicals, especially the macro-nutrients
  • that many of the newer crop varieties were more susceptible to zinc deficiency, and with the increase in use
    of phosphorus this soil deficiency was more likely to occur
  • that the sequential cropping of rice and wheat on the same land, (a new style of farming) introduced into
    both South and East Asia, and made possible by new crop varieties and agronomic expertise has
    also contributed

In marketplaces such as China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines for instance, where the need to maximise food production is at its greatest, land uses for rice and other cereal crops need to seriously address the issue of zinc deficiency as it is preventing crops from attaining their full yield potential.

However, it should also be noted that zinc deficiency is not just a problem in developing countries. It occurs widely in most parts of the USA, throughout Europe and across Australia – all technologically advanced countries.

It is a global issue and must be addressed with a high sense of priority.

This article explores the issue of zinc deficiency in a logical and practical way, and provides information about RLF products that can help combat this crop inhibiting problem.

It will also demonstrate how RLF is leading the way in making the same services of knowledge and understanding, ready access to expert technical advice, and to a range of scientifically engineered liquid fertilisers readily available in today's developed agricultural economies, accessible to marketplaces all over the world. Whether our customers grow in large industrial scale enterprises or farm on small-scale holdings, the same level of expertise and access to appropriate world-leading products is always available.

The following world map shows the zinc deficiency zones, in two measures (widespread and medium), across
the globe.


What this shows is :

  • that a considerable area of the world’s arable lands already suffer widespread zinc deficiency
  • that almost a further 50% of agricultural lands are considered as having a medium deficiency risk, which could well progress into widespread deficiency in future years
Soil and foliar applications of zinc fertilisers can effectively address this problem. But, our knowledge of the cycle of life held within the soil should also be at the forefront of decision-making to ensure a sustainable future.

However most importantly, fertilising with zinc not only increases zinc content in zinc deficient crops, it also increases crop yield.

Balanced crop nutrition by supplying all the essential nutrients, is a recognised, cost effective management strategy. Even with zinc-efficient crop varieties, zinc fertilisers are needed when the available zinc in the topsoil becomes depleted, and we already know that the world’s soil is under serious strain in this regard.

Zinc for Crops

Soil zinc is an essential micronutrient for plant growth and development and is heavily involved in enzyme systems that regulate the early growth stages. It is vital for fruit, seed and root system development, photosynthesis, formation of plant growth regulators and crop stress protection. Zinc is also a team player with nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) for many of the plant’s development processes.

Soil however requires zinc in very small amounts compared, for instance, to nitrogen or potassium. Yet, lack of zinc can seriously limit plant growth.

All farmers and growers know that both yield and financial return are effected significantly by the performance and yield losses associated with soil and paddock variability.

We also know that yield potential of all crops and varieties is heavily dependent on zinc to achieve the very best outcomes possible.

Some of the difficulties farmers and growers are confronted with are :

  • the loss of organic matter from the soil
  • that every square metre of soil is different
  • the quality and nutrient values in the soil are inconsistent
  • that whilst macro-nutrients may be easier to find a solution for, dealing with the mirco-nutrients which are measured in much smaller quantities (ppm) pose a lot more problems with soil variability
  • the soil mass of the areas they work is so large, that it is almost impossible to fix the micro-nutrient local requirement of the soil in any sensible economical or physical way through generally accepted (or current practice) soil application methods
  • that attempting to 'fix the soil' is increasingly more unachievable because of the economic constraints, and that it is not commercially viable to continue practising the same old methods of dealing with the issues associated with soil and paddock variability

RLF Ultra Foliar products are specifically engineered to eliminate the effects of soil and paddock variability by adding high concentrations of the required nutrient directly to the plant. This action therefore, bypasses any soil deficiency – including that of zinc deficiency.

Soil variability is a widespread condition and can only be addressed by the use of highly specialised products and RLF products have been consistently demonstrated to bring about considerable improvement in this regard. Through its rigorous research and development processes RLF has developed a unique concept and highly developed products to address all the problems associated with soil deficiencies and paddock variability.

Corn, rice and wheat, three of the world’s most important cereal crops, are all affected by zinc deficiency. Clearly, everything that grows in zinc depleted soils will suffer, but of these three major crops, rice will be looked at a little more closely.
Corn (known as maize in many parts of the world) is the crop species which is understood to be most susceptible to zinc deficiency. Corn generally accounts for the highest use of zinc fertiliser per hectare, more than any other crop. With the increase in demand for corn in addition to human food supply, for livestock feed and biofuel production the mitigation of zinc deficiency in this crop is going to remain an important crop nutrition priority.

Wheat is less sensitive than corn, but it is still severely affected by zinc deficiency in many parts of the world, especially the larger broad-scale farming enterprises in Australia, North America, Europe and the countries of the former USSR. Low available zinc concentrations in chalky soils, with a relatively high phosphorus status tends to be the most widely found cause of zinc deficiency in wheat.
Rice is known to be crucially effected by zinc deficiency, and probably attributed to the way in which it is farmed. Approximately two-thirds of the crop is currently produced in flooded paddy systems and while this has many advantages, it is relatively inefficient in its use of water. Alternative, more water efficient rice growing systems are however being developed in some countries. It is known that flooding the soil reduces the availability of zinc tothe crop, whilst increasing the concentrations of soluble phosphorus which contributes to zinc deficiency problems. It has been recorded that possibly as much as half of the paddy rice soils are affected by zinc deficiency. When you consider how important this crop is for Asia alone, it could actually involve up to 35 million hectares of its rice producing land. Even though many areas of lowland paddy rice production are being replaced by more water-efficient production systems, it appears that these new systems could also be susceptible to zinc deficiency, still requiring the application of zinc fertilisers.

  • zinc deficiency is the most widespread micro-nutrient disorder
    in rice
  • zinc deficiency has actually increased with the introduction
    of modern crop varieties and crop intensification strategies



Soil and foliar applications of zinc fertilisers can effectively address this problem. But, our knowledge of the cycle of life held within the soil should also be at the forefront of decision-making to ensure a sustainable future.

However most importantly, fertilising with zinc not only increases zinc content in zinc deficient crops, it also increases crop yield.

Balanced crop nutrition by supplying all the essential nutrients, is a recognised, cost effective management strategy. Even with zinc-efficient crop varieties, zinc fertilisers are needed when the available zinc in the topsoil becomes depleted, and we already know that the world’s soil is under serious strain in this regard.

But for all the reasons already discussed, and what science and research has already taught, we know that a new way of fertilising is needed to deliver the required results in an efficient and sustainable manner.

The world’s agricultural sector must transition to more efficient, productive and restorative practices to ensure continued safe food supply and sustainable soils.

One important positive message that farmers and growers can embrace is to ensure ‘that the plant has access to all of the nutrients it needs, all of the time‘.

And this can be rapidly and sustainably achieved through the use of RLF liquid foliar solutions.


RLF has developed a special range of Foliar Sprays that concentrate on the micro-nutrients required for plant growth and development – specifically zinc, but also for manganese
and copper.

It is called Rapid.

RLF’s focus on trace elements in liquid fertiliser formulations is recognised world-wide and considerable technical expertise and analysis has been applied to bring a new product range, with a new approach, to the market.

The Rapid product range applies the RLF technology of NDS (nutrient delivery system) combined with a blend of high-quality ETDA chelating agents, together creating the Rapid Delivery System. This Rapid Foliar delivers zinc and a complement of supporting nutrients to the plant very rapidly, and with extreme efficiency and effectiveness.


Rapid Foliar


Rapid Zinc on Vegetable Crops in Bangladesh
During January 2015 to April 2015 several trials were conducted at the Research and Development Farm in Bashon, Gazipur, Bangladesh. These trials were carried out by RLF’s partner in Bangladesh, Lal Teer Seed Limited, and the map plots the location of the R & D Farm. This area historically receives approximately 90mm rainfall during these four months from an approximate number of 10 rain days.

Rapid Zinc has an impeccable pedigree. It has benefited from the technological advances learned from RLF’s Ultra Foliar Range
of product.

Rapid Zinc is in ionic form which makes up-take in nutrient delivery far more efficient.

By working with granular fertilisers, zinc deficiency in the soil can easily be addressed.


As with other Ultra Foliar products, Rapid Zinc is packed with all the nutrients necessary for plant development. It does this by delivering a complete broad spectrum nutrient package – directly to the plant – that supports plant growth, strength and physiology thereby ensuring that NKP fertilisers and herbicides/fungicide are buffered during uptake for maximum gain.

Phosphorus in Rapid Zinc Foliar is particularly effective for the uptake of trace elements – and Rapid Zinc maintains this – as well as a strong backgrounding of other micro-nutrients, particularly manganese, copper, sulphur and magnesium.

In fact, if a foliar spray doesn’t have P it is potentially less effective.

One of the great strengths of Rapid Zinc is that it unlocks previously unavailable phosphorus, giving it to the plant to achieve greater yield. This process ensures plants are protected from the problems of soil nutrient variability, and provides the plant with the extra resilience it needs to handle the extremes of soil and other environmental conditions when confronted with them.

Being partially chelated allows it ‘safe entry’ to the leaf, and once delivered is readily available as it breaks
down faster.

Rapid Zinc




Phosphorus (P2O5) 245 g/L 24.5 %w/v 16.1 %w/w
Magnesium (Mg) 6.9 g/L 0.69 %w/v 0.45 %w/w
Sulphur (S) 38 g/L 3.8 %w/v 2.5 %w/w
Zinc (Zn) 98 g/L 9.8 %w/v 6.4 %w/w
Manganese (Mn) 28 g/L 2.8 %w/v 1.8 %w/w
Copper (Cu) 5.4 g/L 0.54 %w/v 0.35 %w/w
NOTE : Global Standard Analysis
the analysis given above is the global standard and can change or vary from country to country. Always refer to the product specified for each country and the product labels in each country. Analysis may vary as a result of the local country rules, regulations and laws. Generally analysis and formulation is not changed.
Key Benefits of Rapid Zinc are that :
  • it overcomes plant nutrient deficiencies due to soil or seasonal factors
  • it assists the plant metabolise nutrients
    more effectively
  • it maximises the efficiency of granular
    fertiliser programs
  • it utilises the common nutrients pathways and mechanisms of both root and leaf
  • it recognises that roots do not satisfy plant demand for nutrients at all times or in all soil types
  • it saves time and plant energy by bypassingthe soil and root system for a rapid utilisation of nutrients through the leaf
  • it makes sound farm management sense because it of its complimentary nature and ability to support and co-exist with
    all other fertiliser programs
  • it ensures that all of the nutrients are available to the plant all of the time

It is called Rapid Zinc for a very good reason.

Every plant cell that it touches gets absorbed. Therefore the uptake of the micro-nutrients needed to support the macro-nutrients in the job that they do, is very fast. This balanced and easy approach is quite different from other fertiliser applications.

Rapid Zinc is a focused specialty formulation that delivers high-performance zinc along with two other micro-nutrients, copper and manganese. It also contains a supporting balance of phosphorous, sulphur and magnesium.
Rapid Zinc uses an ionic form of Zinc and Copper to insure rapid and improved uptake efficiency by the leaves.
Rapid Zinc uses a more dynamic and partial application of high-quality EDTA chelates to facilitate zinc and copper mobility in the plant when compared to oxide, sulphate, and chelate foliar fertilisers.
Rapid Zinc is phosphorus-based providing fully available inorganic phosphates in the immediate form required by the plant to achieve greater yielding outcomes.

Rapid Zinc, with its balanced and measured components is very fast and very efficient.

It moves around the plant as it is needed, and where it is needed.

Large areas of arable land across the world have soils known to be zinc deficient.

It has been recognised that the use of increased amounts of high quality phosphorus fertilisers along with new, high yielding varieties of rice, wheat and other crops, often contributes to this level of zinc deficiency, especially where the existing plant-available levels of zinc in the soil is marginal.

In South and East Asia, for instance, rice tends to be the crop most affected by zinc deficiency, due to the effect of flooding on zinc availability. These too are the areas of heavy population with high dependence on rice as a staple food, so there is real imperative to address this issue.
  • China currently has the largest population in the world, but with only has one third of the world average ‘per capita’ area of land available to it for cultivation, faces compounding challenges.With land being so scarce, it is essential that crop productivity is notlost through zinc deficiency.It is estimated that half of China’sfarmland is zinc deficient and requires zinc fertilisation or remediation, especially for corn and rice.
  • In India and Pakistan large areas of zinc-deficient alluvial soils exist, generally it is believed,because of the sequential rice-wheat cropping regime that is undertaken on a large scale to optimise food production. It has been estimated that approximately one half of the soils from all ofIndia’s main agricultural areas are deficient in zinc. This could represent as much as 80 million hectares of arable soil.
  • In The Philippines, 8 million hectares of wetland rice are estimated to be zinc-deficient.
  • In Indonesia rice accounts for more than half of the energy consumed through food intake by more than 100 million people. Rice cultivation covers approximately 10 million hectares of land throughout the archipelago. The supply and control of water is crucial to the rice cropping system, high-yield varieties are being experimented with, and dryland cultivation as well as swamp and tidal cultivation systems co-exist. Zinc deficiency remains an issue for the populace and in 2011 zinc supplements were introduced into the diets of children and pregnant women.
  • In Australia, 8 million hectares of zinc deficient land exists in one area alone on the border between South Australia and Victoria. Extensive areas exist in other parts of the country, and notably Western Australia where vast cereal crop environments are established.

As stated, this is a global issue with the same problem with zinc deficiency existing in soils in every growing and cropping environment across the world. No country, region, or farm is immune.

Once zinc-deficient soils have been identified however, the problem is easily and cost-effectively rectified by the application of zinc fertilisers, either to the seed or by foliar spray directly onto the crop.


This presents farmers and growers with a range of problems, and is particularly prevalent in the mid-west region of the USA, large parts of the South Americas and Africa. It is especially widespread throughout Asia. A large percentage of Australia's agricultural soils are also subject to some level of zinc deficiency, keeping pace with this increasing world-wide trend.

  • zinc is required in protein synthesis and growth regulation
  • zinc-deficient plants exhibit delayed maturity
  • zinc is not mobile in plants, therefore these deficiency symptoms occur mainly in new growth,
    and this lackof mobility suggests the need for a constant supply of available zinc for optimum growth
  • zinc is required in small amounts and high yields are impossible without it
Zinc requirements vary amongst crops, but it is considered that almost half of the world’s cereal crops are deficient, and this often leads to poor crop yields. Rice is a crop significantly effected as it remains the staple cereal crop for millions of people.

By having a basic knowledge of the dynamics of the soil, and by understanding the uptake and transport of zinc in crops better, a response to overcoming soil zinc deficiency can begin to be implemented in the effort that is needed for sustainable solutions to this problem.

Some of the tell-tale signs of zinc deficiency in rice begin to appear between two to four weeks after the transplanting has been done. One or more of the following symptoms will appear :
  • dusty brown spots on the upper leaves of the plants showing stunted growth
  • uneven plant growth
  • increased spikelet sterility in rice
  • signs of anaemia, particularly near the leaf base of younger leaves
  • leaves lose turgor and turn brown as blotches and streaks appear on lower leaves, then enlarge and coalesce
  • a white line may appear along the leaf mid-rib
  • the leaf blade will be reduced in size
Under severe zinc deficiency, the tillering stage decreases or can stop completely, and time to crop maturity
increases significantly.

Rapid Zinc on Tea Crops in Sri Lanka

The major tea growing areas in Sri Lanka are :

  • Location-1 Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in Central Province
  • Location-2 Badulla, Bandarawela and Haputale in Uva Province
  • Location-3 Galle, Matara and Mulkirigala in Southern Province
  • Location-4 atnapura and Kegalle in Sabaragamuwa Province
In addition there are six main principal regions that plant tea. These are Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Kandy, Uda Pussellawa, Uva Province and Southern Province. OPEX FERTIQA (PVT) LTD, in partnership with Rural Liquid Fertilisers (RLF), conducted a field trial in the Baddegama area of Galle District in Southern Province to trial the effectiveness of a new fertiliser product to the Sri Lankan market – RLF's RAPID ZINC. The map opposite identifies the growing areas and shows the trial field location.
Now, specifically formulated products with all of 'the hero' elements, such as those contained in Rapid Zinc can be delivered with utmost safety in one single, stable and effective solution.

Rapid Zinc is the new generation in available zinc nutrient products. By using the RLF-developed RDS (Rapid Delivery System) it ensures that the maximum level of nutrient is delivered to the plant rapidly and more effectively. This is because it is buffered at the correct low pH to deliver the safe and rapid uptake of nutrients that eliminates leaf burn often experienced with the foliar application of other products.

Rapid Zinc :
  • improves the soil for the next season because of the direct impact it has on the increase of soil organic matter left at season's end 
  • is easier to use, and has excellent handling abilities and compatibilities
  • cannot be compared to any other product currently on the market because of all the technological features contained within it
There is great comfort and confidence for the farmer and grower to know that this product :
  • is an exact science
  • has been built on the strong scientific principles of plant physiology
  • embraces the technology of NDS, a Nutrient Delivery System that increases the efficiency in product uptake significantly, through the leaf
But this problem of zinc deficiency throws up some significant pitfalls, and the following key points are important to understand :
  • one of the most insidious aspects to zinc deficiency is that visible symptoms will often only start to show when severe deficiency status has been reached
  • if zinc deficiency is more marginal, yields may be reduced and crop quality impaired without the appearance of obvious symptoms in the crop
  • these hidden zinc deficiencies may actually be of greater economic importance than the cases of severe deficiency (those accompanied by clear symptoms), because farmers will not be aware that this zinc deficiency problem exists
  • only when there are obvious symptoms will farmers seriously take notice, or be aware that something is wrong and seek advice or commence corrective treatment
  • hidden zinc deficiencies may go undetected for several growing seasons without farmers realising that their disappointing yields are due to zinc deficiency
  • the cost of lost production due to zinc deficiency can be considerable, especially if the farmer has had the added expense of all the other necessary inputs to achieve high yielding harvests
On a global scale, with the need to produce ever larger quantities of staple foods, in particular it is simply not acceptable for large areas of agricultural land to be producing poor crop yield outcomes as a result of zinc deficiency.

This is a problem that can be easily and cost-effectively rectified.

RLF's Rapid range of products has been designed for this exact circumstance and purpose. Rapid Zinc provides this specific risk mitigation service for this very common micro-nutrient deficiency.

This balanced and easy approach is quite different from other fertiliser applications.

Rapid Zinc, with its balanced and measured components is very fast and very efficient.

It moves around the plant as it is needed, and where it is needed.