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Soil Nutrients

Plants pull the nutrients from the soil through their roots. These nutrients are grouped into Macronutrients and Micronutrients.

Macronutrients are needed at high levels in the plants, and consist of the familiar Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, usually abbreviated “N-P-K”.

Micronutrients are just as essential as macronutrients, but in lesser quantities.

Macronutrients and their use in plants:
  • Carbon- Air- Sugars, fats, proteins, DNA, etc.
  • Oxygen- Air/Water- Sugars, fats, proteins, DNA, etc.
  • Hydrogen- Water- Sugars, fats, proteins, DNA, etc. pH regulation
  • Nitrogen- Soil- Proteins
  • Potassium- Soil- Ion balance in the cell
  • Phosphorus- Soil- Molecules used in all chemical reactions
  • Sulfur- Soil- Proteins, co-enzymes
  • Calcium- Soil- Cell wall
  • Magnesium- Soil- Chlorophyll, enzymes
  • Silicon- Cell Wall

Micronutrients and their use in plants:

  • Chlorine- Photosynthesis, ion balance in cells
  • Iron- Chlorophyll, enzymes
  • Boron- Carbohydrate metabolism
  • Manganese- enzyme function, root growth, and chlorophyll synthesis
  • Sodium- Photosynthesis, ion balance in cells
  • Zinc- Enzyme function
  • Copper- Enzyme function
  • Nickel- Enzyme function
  • Molybdenum- Nitrogen metabolism
  • Cobalt- Vitamin B12

Soil nutrient demands are specific for each crop, and should be measured through a soil nutrient test. If the soil is deficient in a certain nutrient, critical life stages will not be completed or the deficiency can lead to plant stress or death.

Continue on to learn about how Soil pH affects uptake of these nutrients>>