The basic component required for the growth of a plant is Nutrients. Plants grow healthy with the help of these essential components. Plants get these nutrients from soil and fertilizers. These nutrients are further classified into two categories namely Micro nutrients and Macro nutrients depending on the quantity required for the plants. These nutrients not only improves the plant's growth but also stabilizes the plant during drought and diseases. Let us know about some of the basic nutrients required for a plant to grow healthy.
The nutrients which are required in large quantity for the efficient growth of plants are called Macro nutrients. There are about nine macro nutrients of which three are considered to be the common macro nutrients.
1. Nitrogen (N):
Nitrogen is one of the most significant macro nutrients in plants. Nitrogen is the constituent of amino acids and proteins. It is also an essential constituent of chlorophyll which helps the plant in Photosynthesis. The atmospheric air consists of about 72% of nitrogen. So nitrogen is abundantly available in the atmosphere. But due to the triple bond between the nitrogen atoms, it will not be available for the plant's use. Hence nitrogen fixation must be done in the form of ammonia (NH3) and nitrate (NO2) ions. Microorganisms play a vital role in helping the plants to absorb nitrogen. They help in the process of nitrogen fixation and converts nitrogen into ammonia and nitrate. These microorganisms will be either free-living or symbiotically connected with the plants. The ammonia and nitrate obtained will be absorbed by the roots and used by the plants for the better growth. Deficiency in nitrogen leads to the slow growth and leaf chlorosis.
2. Potassium (K):
Potassium is also one of the vital macro nutrients required for the plants to grow healthy. But unlike the other nutrients, it does not enter any part of the plants involved in metabolism. It has a very important role to play in the growth of tender leaves and at the growing points. Potassium is one of the best nutrients when it comes to the mobility and solubility in plant tissues. This macro nutrients in plants also helps in the formation of carbohydrates and proteins in the plants. It also helps in the process of Photosynthesis under low light conditions. It also regulates the opening and closing action in stomata with potassium ion pump. Stomata is very important in water regulation, potassium regulates the water loss in the leaves and makes the plant drought tolerant. It also helps in the development of fruits with good color and shape. It also improves the sap or brix quality in the fruit. So the plants grown in potassium-rich soil can produce good quality fruits. Potassium deficiency in plants causes necrosis or interveinal chlorosis. It may also affect the growth of plants.
3. Phosphorus (P):
Phosphorus is also one of the vital macro nutrients essential for the healthy growth of a plant. It is involved in many important plant processes. It is present inside the plants as the nucleic acid, Ribonucleic acid and Deoxyribonucleic acid as a structural component and as a constituent of fatty Phospholipids. These macro nutrients in plants are the important components for the plant function and development of membrane. All the energy transfer process inside the plant cell is dependant on Phosphorus. It is also used to change the activity of certain enzymes by phosphorylation which intern helps in cell signaling. Phosphorus is mostly seen in the actively growing parts of the plants and stored within the seeds. Phosphorus deficiency in plants can be identified by an intense green coloration or reddening in leaves due to lack of chlorophyll. If the plant is experiencing high phosphorus deficiencies the leaves may become denatured and show signs of death. Sometimes the leaves may appear purple from an accumulation of anthocyanin. As phosphorus is a mobile nutrient, older leaves will show the first signs of deficiency.
Sulfur is one of the macro nutrients which is responsible for Photosynthesis. This macro nutrient in plants also contributes as the structural component of amino acids and vitamins. It helps in the growth of chloroplast which is essential for photosynthesis. It is essential for nitrogen fixation through legumes and in the conversion of nitrates into amino acids and proteins. Sulfur deficiency leads to yellowing of leaves and stunted growth.
Magnesium is also an essential macro nutrient which helps in the development of a plant. It plays a very important role in plant nutrition as a constituent of the chlorophyll molecule. It is also involved in many enzyme reactions as an effective activator, in which it is closely associated with energy-supplying phosphorus compounds. It is a mobile macro nutrient in plants.
Calcium is responsible for regulating the transport of other nutrients. It also activates certain enzymes in plants. This macro nutrient has the significance in the process of photosynthesis in plants. Calcium can also help in preventing the salinity of soils. It is essential for the root development and cell wall structure. Calcium deficiency mostly affects the roots than any other part of the plant. Stunting and Blossom end rot are also caused due to calcium deficiency.
Micro nutrients are the essential nutrients required in small quantity for the better growth of the plants. Even though these nutrients are required in a small quantity, they play a very important role in the growth of plants. There are several micro nutrients; let us know about some of the micro nutrients.
1. Iron (Fe)
Iron is one of the micro nutrients in plants which is necessary for the process of Photosynthesis to take place. It also an enzyme cofactor in plants. Iron is not a constituent of the chlorophyll but helps in the process of Photosynthesis. Deficiency in iron leads to interveinal chlorosis and necrosis.
2. Molybdenum (Mo)
Molybdenum is one of the most significant micro nutrients in plants which contributes to the healthy growth of the plants. It is a cofactor of the enzymes which are responsible for building the amino acids and also involved in nitrogen metabolism. It also has a predominant role in the reduction of nitrates in nitrate reductase enzyme and in nitrogenate enzyme which is required for biological nitrogen fixation. Deficiency in Molybdenum leads to reduced productivity in plants.
3. Boron (B)
Boron is also one of the vital nutrients required for the plants' growth. It is available in the form of Borate and in the highly soluble forms of organic compounds. Boron is most important for the formation and strengthening of cell walls. As Boron is required in a small amount for the plants, distributing it evenly to the soil is a bit difficult. So it is mixed with Potassium and Phosphorus components and spread to the soil. Boron deficiency leads to stunted fruits and stunted roots.
Copper is also one of the essential micro nutrients for plants which are responsible for the healthy growth of a plant. This micro nutrient plays a very important role in photosynthesis. It also involved in many enzyme processes which are necessary for photosynthesis. It is also involved in the formation of the cell wall and grain production.
Manganese is essential for the process of Photosynthesis. Even though it is required in very small amount, it makes a huge difference in the growth of plants. It is also involved in nitrogen assimilation, pollen germination, root cell development etc., Magnesium deficiency leads to coloration abnormalities and discolored spots.
Sodium is important for the regeneration of phosphoenolpyruvate which is dependant on carbon fixation. Carbon fixation is an important process required for Photosynthesis. Sodium can replace Potassium in the regulation process of stomatal opening and closing. It can also increase the leaf area and the water balance in plants.