Friday, January 24, 2014

Essential Plant Nutrients for a Healthy Crop

Plants need a number of nutrients that promotes healthy growth. There are as many as 16 essential plant nutrients that include the nine major elements; hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and sulfur. Other elements include micronutrients like copper, boron, manganese, iron, zinc, chlorine, and molybdenum.  Hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon combine to result in the process of photosynthesis.

The Importance of Testing

A soil analysis is essential to determine how much of the nutrients are present in the soil. Samples can be lab tested especially if you want to know more other than the soil’s alkalinity and salinity. However, there are several DIY kits to test the pH and identify the basic nutrients of the soil. These kits do not offer recommended the input of specific nutrients in case of any deficiency so that the correct pH balance can be maintained. This type of an analysis is a valuable tool in determining the inputs required for cost effective and efficient plant production. A proper soil test ensures the precise application of fertilizer to meet the requirements of the crop while taking advantage of nutrients already present in the soil. However, it is important to use the correct soil sampling technique for accurate results.

The Role of Nutrients

There are many reasons why soil could be low in nutrients. This could occur naturally while the removal of crops without replenishment may lead to a nutrient deficiency. Some high yielding crops also have higher nutrient requirements. It is important to understand the two main types of nutrients. Macronutrients are those like nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium that are required by the plant in large quantities.  On the other hand, micronutrients are required in very small amounts but are essential for healthy plant growth. They must be added to the soil in small amounts whenever there is a deficiency.  This includes iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc and molybdenum, and also includes vitamins.

Role of Individual Nutrients

Nitrogen is what drives plant growth. It is involved in all the major processes of plant development. On the other hand, phosphorus plays a key role in photosynthesis and the transfer of energy. It is also responsible for the development of the tissues that result in healthy growth. Many natural and agricultural soils are deficient in phosphorus. Potassium is responsible for activating more than 60 enzymes that induce protein synthesis and improves a plant’s capacity to hold water, thereby increasing its tolerance to drought, salinity, and frost. Another essential nutrient is sulphur, a constituent of protein that is involved in the formation of cholorphyll along with magnesium. Calcium promotes healthy root growth and is also a constituent for cell wall materials. It helps reduce soil acidity.

The Benefits of Fulvic Acid

Science and medicine have both discovered fulvic acid benefits for plants as well as humans. It occurs naturally in organic plants and soil, and is considered a crucial ingredient to a healthy and productive farm or garden. Fulvic acid can be purchased commercially along with amino acid chelate products, and is most useful in foliar feeding. The nutrients are directly absorbed to restore the plant’s natural balance. It is a great detoxifier and helps boost drought tolerance in plants.