Essential Elements for Plant Growth

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Essential Elements for Plant Growth

What are some of the elements and their major nutritional functions?

Boron (B) - It helps move sugars from cell to cell; control starch formation; stimulates cell division, flower formation and pollination.

Calcium (Ca) - Raw material for holding cell walls; raises pH; aids genetic stability; promotes root hair formation and earth; stiffens straw.

Chlorine (Cl) - Needed for photosynthesis; stimulates root growth and aids water movement in plants.

Cobalt (Co) - Needed by Rhizobium for nitrogen fixation; helps form vitamin B12; improves growth, water movement and photosynthesis; improves growth, water movement and photosynthesis; improves boll production in cotton; activates certain enzymes.

Copper (Cu) - Enzyme activator, particularly for certain protein forming enzymes and Vitamin A forming enzymes; it stimulated stem development and pigment formation.

Iron (Fe) - Raw material for several enzymes including those that form chlorophyll and those that help oxidize (burn) sugar for energy; also necessary for legume nitrogen fixation.

Magnesium (Mg) - Raw material for chlorophyll formation; activates enzymes particularly those involved with nitrogen reactions and energy metabolism; it increases oil production n flax and soybeans; helps regulate uptake of other elements.

Molybdenum (Mo) - Needed for nitrogen fixation and nitrogen use in the plant; specifically it is needed to make amino acids; it stimulates plant growth and vigor very much like nitrogen.

Nitrogen (N) - Raw material for proteins, chlorophyll, and genetic material (DNA and RNA); stimulates vegetative growth.

Phosphorous (P) - Raw material of genetic material (DNA and RNA) and for energy carrying compounds (ATP and ADP); stimulates fruit, seed and root production and early season growth; increases winter hardiness.

Potassium (K) - Necessary for sugar movement from leaves to developing fruits and seeds and for starch formation. It helps water movement; stimulates fruit, seed and root production and increases disease resistance; increases red pigment in fruits.

Silicon (Si) - Increases the number of seeds (particularly in rice and other grains); increases sugar cane growth.

Sodium (Na) Necessary for proper carbohydrate production and use; increases resistance to drought; increases sugar content in some crops (sugar beets).

Sulfur (S) Raw material for certain amino acids and thus for proteins; necessary for legume nodule formation; raw material for certain oil compounds that give specific odors to some plants such as onions, garlic, mustard, etc; it is also a raw material for certain protein forming enzymes; it increases oil production in flax and soybeans.

Zinc (Zn) Raw materials for several enzymes including those that form growth controlling substances; stimulates stem growth and flower bud formation.

What is the 'Law of the Minimum'?

Law of the Minimum. The 'father of fertilizer', Justus von Liebig, developed the 'Law of the Minimum'. The Law states that plant growth is determined by the scarcest 'limiting' nutrient; if even one of the many required nutrients is deficient, the plant will not grow and produce at its optimum. Conventional fertilizer programs focus on the macro-nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). However, if one of the many essential trace elements is deficient in the soil, the plant will not perform at its optimum, affecting yield and immune function.


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