It is well known that the growth and development of the plant are majorly dependent on the availability of nutrients in the soil. Plants need a total of 16 elements for completion of a productive life cycle. There are two classes of nutrients based on the quantities they are required for the growth and development-macronutrients and micronutrients. They are macronutrients i.e., the ones that are required at higher concentrations of about 1150g per kg of plant dry matterand micronutrients that are required at a concentration of 0.1100 mg per kg of plant dry matter. Nevertheless, both of the nutrients are significant for plant growth and metabolism.
As the name suggests, macronutrients are required in larger quantities by the plant. Macronutrients are again classified into
- Structural nutrients: Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that build the organic molecules of the cell. They represent the non-mineral class of macronutrients
- Primary nutrients: Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus which comprise about 75% of the mineral nutrients of the plant. They are required for the proper functioning of plant enzymes and other biochemical processes
- Secondary nutrients: Calcium, magnesium and sulphur are classified as secondary nutrients
Micronutrients are required by the plant in lesser quantities yet, essential for the plant growth and survival. They play a key role in the metabolic activities of the plant. They include boron, zinc, manganese, iron, copper, molybdenum and chlorine. The functions of each of these are given below:
- Boron: It is required for the formation and strengthening of the cell wall, flowering, fruiting and pollen germination. Deficiency leads to reduced seed and grain production
- Zinc: It helps in photosynthesis and growth regulation. Its deficiency would lead to slower maturity and reduction in the size of leaf
- Manganese: Manganese plays an important role in photosynthesis and nitrogen metabolism. Delayed maturity and early leaf drop are the consequences of manganese deficiency
- Iron: Energy transfer, nitrogen reduction and fixation are key functions of iron. Iron deficiency causes yellowing of leaf
- Copper: Copper is responsible for photosynthesis, grain production and cell wall strengthening. Copper deficiency results in yellowing of leaves and stunted growth
- Molybdenum: Molybdenum is essential for pollen formation and nitrogen fixation and its deficiency leads to reduced fruit and grain growth
- Chlorine: This micro-nutrient helps in osmosis, photosynthesis and ionic balance. With chlorine deficiency, there is reduced plant growth and decreased resistance.
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