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Major and Minor Soil Nutrients | Functions and symptoms

Micro and Macro soil nutrients Their Functions and symptoms

Macronutrients Micronutrients
Nutrients are required by the plant in relatively large amounts Nutrients are required only in small amounts
Non-mineral elements
carbon (C)
hydrogen (H)oxygen (O)
Primary Nutrients
Nitrogen (N)
Phosphorus (P)
Potassium (K)
Secondary Nutrients
calcium (Ca)
magnesium (Mg)
sulfur (S)
Iron (Fe)
Copper (Cu)
Zinc (Zn)
Boron (B)
Molybdenum (Mo)
Manganese (Mn)
Chlorine (Cl)

Functions and symptoms of Nutrients

Nitrogen

Roles

  • Promotes growth of leaves and stems
  • Gives dark green colour and improves the quality of foliage
  • Necessary to develop cell proteins and chlorophyll

Deficiency symptoms

  • sick, yellow-green color
  • short stems, small leaves, pale colored leaves and flowers
  • slow and dwarfed plant growth

Phosphorus

Roles

  • Stimulates early formation and growth of roots
  • Provides for fast and vigorous growth and speeds maturity
  • Stimulates flowering and seed development
  • Necessary for the enzyme action of many plant processes

Deficiency symptoms

  • Decrease in growth
  • Slow maturity
  • Older leaves are a purplish colour

Potassium

Roles

  • Used to form carbohydrates and proteins
  • Formation and transfer of starches, sugars and oils
  • Increases disease resistance, vigour and hardiness

Deficiency symptoms

  • Mottled, spotted, streaked or curled leaves
  • Scorched, burned, dead leaf tips and margins

Calcium

Roles

  • Improves plant vigour
  • Influences intake and synthesis of other plant nutrients
  • An important part of cell walls

Deficiency symptoms

  • small developing leaves
  • wrinkled older leaves
  • dead stem tips

Magnesium

Roles

  • Influences the intake of other essential nutrients
  • Helps make fats
  • Assists in translocation of phosphorus and fats

Deficiency symptoms

  • Interveinal chlorosis-yellowing of leaves between green veins
  • leaf tips curl or cup upward
  • slender, weak stalks

Sulfur

Roles

  • Promotes root growth and vigorous
    vegetative growth
  • Essential to protein formation

Deficiency symptoms

  •  Young leaves are light green with lighter
    colour veins
  • Yellow leaves and stunted growth

Iron

Roles

  •  Essential for chlorophyll production
  •  Help carry electrons to mix oxygen with
    other elements

Deficiency symptoms

  • Mottled and interveinal chlorosis in young
    leaves
  • Stunted growth and slender, short stems

Copper

Roles

  • Helps in the use of Iron
  • Helps respiration

Deficiency symptoms

  • Young leaves are small and permanently
    wilt
  • Multiple buds at stem tip

Zinc

Roles

  • Plant metabolism
  • Helps form growth hormones
  • Reproduction

Deficiency symptoms

  • Retarded growth between nodes (rosetted)
  • New leaves are thick and small
  • Spotted between veins, discoloured veins

Boron

Roles

  • Affects water absorption by roots
  • Translocation of sugars

Deficiency Symptom

  • Short, thick stem tips
  • young leaves of terminal buds are light
    green at base
  • leaves become twisted and die

Manganese

Roles

  • Plant metabolism
  • Nitrogen transformation

Deficiency symptoms

  • Interveinal chlorosis
  • Young leaves die

Molybdenum

Roles

  • Plant development
  • Reproduction

Deficiency symptoms

  • Stunted growth
  • Yellow leaves, upward curling leaves, leaf
    margins burn

Chlorine

Roles

  • Essential to some plant processes
  • Acts in enzyme systems

Deficiency symptoms

  • Usually more problems with too much
    Chlorine or toxicity than with deficiency

Learn More

  1. Soil Science One Liner Questions for Agriculture Jobs 
  2. Role of Silicon in alleviating biotic & abiotic stresses in plants
  3. Vermicompost application for enhancement of soil fertility and to reduce environmental pollution 
  4. Role of Legume Crops in Soil improvement

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