A Review on The Impact of Copper Sulphate in Farming

Published: 24th April 2009
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Copper sulphate or bluestone is the common name for what is actually copper sulphate pentahydrate CuSO4 5H2O. It is the most common of all copper salts. This versatile substance has many uses but is mainly incorporated in agriculture. Copper sulphate is a salt formed from the reaction of sulphuric acid with different copper compounds like copper (II) oxide. This reaction for instance is a neutralization reaction between a strong acid and a basic anhydride. The resulting products would be cupric sulphate and water. Remember cupric sulphate is an old name for copper (II) sulphate. This salt however has an acidic property. It has strong affinity to water molecules that is why it is rarely found as pure whitish copper (II) sulphate crystals. The incorporation of water molecules yields copper (II) sulphate pentahydrate and this occurs as a brilliant blue crystal. That is why other names for this substance are blue vitriol or bluestone.

In agriculture, copper sulphate is used as a pesticide and fertilizer. The pesticidal property of the blue substance is due to its ability to kill fungus, weeds, and some parasites. In farming copper sulphate is mixed with lime (common name for various calcium compounds usually calcium oxide or calcium hydroxide). This powerful mixture is called the Bordeaux mixture, owing its name due to its early discovery and usage in Bordeaux, France. This is an effective fungi-killing agent. It protects crops from fungal infestation. Fungus, when uncontrolled, takes toll in farms jeopardizing harvests. Another important copper mixture is the Burgundy mixture. This one is prepared from the combination of copper sulphate and sodium carbonate (washing soda). Burgundy mixture has the same pesticidal effects as Bordeaux mixture. The spraying of these mixtures on plants is done upon detection of fungal spores on plants surface since fungal spores bury beneath plant tissues, and when this occurs it is hard to eradicate them. Hence, proper timing of the application of copper fungicides is important. Fungal spores upon exposure to minimal concentrations of copper fungicides die quickly and a wide spectrum of fungi species is susceptible to these fungicides. Thus, copper sulphate and other copper substances have been widely recognized as effective fungicides in farming.

Copper sulphate is an ionic substance. This means that it is readily soluble in water to yield copper and sulphate ions. This property is important in fertilizer industry. Copper sulphate is used to treat insufficiency of copper in the soil. Copper is an important element in plant growth, although it may be toxic in large concentrations. Copper is found in a number of proteins and enzymes in plants that activate certain biochemical processes in them. Agricultural studies show that enzymes are necessary to plant growth and reproduction. The formation of seeds and chlorophyll rely on the presence of copper in plants. Photosynthesis and respiration, two essential processes in plants, are affected by the amount of copper. Lack of copper renders pollen less viable and it is also been associated with empty grains. The signs of copper deficiency are manifested in plants through yellowish or bluish discolorations, brown spots, and abnormal leaf shapes. Animals devouring on vegetation that grows in copper deficient soils may well suffer copper deficiency too. Copper is essential in protein and enzyme synthesis in animals. It is involved in the production of hemoglobin in animals. In fact, some cases of anemia in animals are believed to be due to copper deficiency. Application of copper sulphate onto copper deficient soils corrects these problems.

In seed nurseries, the incorporation of copper sulphate in the soil medium prevents damping off in seedlings. Damping off is another fungal infection that renders seedling stalks to rot, thus, killing the sprouting seedling. Furthermore, the toxic effects of cupric sulphate to snails that serve as vectors to parasites such as liver fluke and Schistosoma have lowered the cases of liver fluke infections and Schistosomiasis in animals. Small amounts of copper sulphate serve as additives in livestock and poultry feeds.

Jo is an author and publisher for 'ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd' (http://www.reagent.co.uk), a well-known UK based chemical company that makes, has a supply of and supplies a huge range of premium chemical. If your firm is searching for superior quality chemical product such as Copper Sulphate or has other industrial chemical requirements for applications similar to chemical mixture, analytical purposes and cleaning then have a look at ReAgent Chemical Services Ltd.

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