Every living thing needs nutrients for its survival, and so does plants. These nutrients facilitate the proper growth and development of the plant. There are 16 such nutrients which the plant needs, and out of these sixteen, nine are essential and the other seven are required by the plants, but in the absence of the remaining seven the plant would not die. They can be further classified into the following:
- Primary Nutrients
- Secondary Nutrients
Essential Plant Nutrients: Description and Significance
Primary Macronutrients: They are Carbon (C), Oxygen (O), and Hydrogen (H) along with Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). The latter three are commonly found in most of the fertilizers, and the former are found in air and water from where they are extracted to make the bulk of the plant. Carbon is required in photosynthesis, and is an important constituent of biomolecules like cellulose and starch.
Oxygen is elemental for cellular respiration, which generates energy for the plant in the form known as ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). Hydrogen is also essential since it helps in the generation of sugars and thus contributes in the growth of the plant. Nitrogen is part of the DNA structure of the plant, and is also a major contributor towards the growth of the plant. Phosphorus is an important part of ATP and has a role to play in the conversion of light energy into chemical energy during photosynthesis. Potassium plays an important part in water retention by the plant, and also regulates the opening and closing of stomata.
Secondary Macroutrients: Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), and Calcium (Ca) are the three secondary macronutrients, which though are required in smaller amounts are essential for the plant. Magnesium is a part of chlorophyll pigment, without which photosynthesis would not be possible and the plant would fail to prepare food and energy. Sulfur is an important part of the amino acids, and also helps in the production of enzymes, vitamins, and chlorophyll. Calcium is helpful in the transportation of nutrients in the plant body. It is also requires for continuous cell division and nitrogen metabolism.
Micronutrients: Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Boron (B), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe), Chlorine (Cl), and Molybdenum (Mo) are the seven micronutrients required by the plants. These nutrients are required in very small quantities as the name suggests. Zinc has a huge role to play in the stimulation and activation of enzymes; therefore it is required though in a small amount for the proper functioning of the plant.
Copper is important for photosynthesis, and is also required to catalyze several process. Boron is an important component of the cell walls. Beside this, it helps in cell division and transportation of sugar. Manganese helps in building of chloroplasts, and it also activates various enzymes. Iron also helps in photosynthesis, enzyme reactions, and in the synthesis of chlorophyll. Molybdenum plays an important role in the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere, and it is also an important element when it comes to the generation of amino acids.
Sources of Essential Plant Nutrients
There are various sources of plant nutrients some natural and some synthetic. The natural sources have to be necessarily air, water, and soil, but the synthetic sources are fertilizers and manures. There are certain fertilizers, which supply certain nutrients, for example calcium and magnesium can be found in Dolomitic Lime or Aglime. Similarly, sulfur can be obtained from sulfur compounds Gypsum, and Magnesium and Potassium Sulfate. Micronutrients like manganese, copper, boron, zinc, and molybdenum are available from sulfates of manganese, copper, and zinc. They can also be obtained from oxides, oxy sulfates, chelates, ammonium molybdate, and boric acid.
Effects of Nutrition Deficiency
The deficiencies of various nutrients lead to a problems like:
- Calcium deficiency would lead to a decrease in the growth level of the plants.
- Deficiency of nitrogen would lead to stunted growth of the plants, and it would also weaken the plant as a result of which it might not flower.
- Deficiency of phosphorus would lead to fading of leaves and slow development.
- Deficiency of potassium would lead to yellowing of leaves and premature withering.
- Iron Deficiency leads to development of white patches in between veins, and this leads to the death of young leaves.
- Sulfur deficiency leads to yellowing of leaves and weakening of the plant, these effects are very similar to that of nitrogen deficiency.
- Boron deficiency leads to deformation and death of leaves along with the death of growing buds.
- Manganese deficiency leads to yellowing of leaf veins, leaves, and poor development of the plant and the fruits.
- Zinc deficiency can lead to the yellowing of leaves and a reduction in the size of the leaf.