5. Mineral Requirements for Growth

Macronutrients and Micronutrients

When any of these elements are lacking in the soil and the deficiencies are not compensated for by adding fertilizer compounds of compost the plant will demonstrate characteristic symptoms of mineral deficiencies. Most commercial fertilizers are some ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and thus are able to compensate for a wide variety of issues. As an example of uses for the essential element in plants we will look at a few elements and how they are utilized:

  • Nitrogen—used in the building of proteins, nucleic acids and chlorophyll
  • Potassium—responsible in the process of enzyme activation, usually found in the Meristems
  • Calcium—vital part of the middle lamella and has a direct role in the movement of substances through cell membranes
  • Phosphorus—vital role in respiration and cellular division also used in the synthesis of energy compounds—ATP and ADP
  • Magnesium—central component of the chlorophyll molecule and involved in enzyme activation
  • Sulphur—structural component of many amino acids
  • Iron—integral in chlorophyll production and plays a role in respiration
  • Manganese—enzyme activator
  • Boron—role in calcium ion use, not clearly understood

As you can see by scanning through the list, all of these elements are involved to one degree or another in vital life-sustaining processes!

5. Mineral Requirements for Growth

Mineral Requirements for Growth

Many external factors will affect growth rates and quality. The minerals available in the local soil is one such source of external input. Essential plant elements include carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, sulphur, calcium, iron, magnesium sodium, chlorine, copper, manganese, cobalt, zinc, molybdenum, and boron to name the most common. Other minerals are required but they vary greatly from plant to plant. For example, some algae need large amounts of iodine and silicon while some locoweed species need selenium—which is poisonous to cattle on its own.