Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Role of Nutrients in Plant Growth - the Macronutrients

Yesterday you learned about the three basic nutrients in plant growth, the ones you normally would find on a bag of fertilizer, N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).  N, P, and K are called macronutrients because they are generally required in larger quantities than other nutrients.  But there are three more nutrients that round out the macronutrients category.  These three nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur.  Below is a description of these.

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium resides mainly in plant leaves. Calcium is an important element for root development and functioning and is an important constituent of cell walls. It is required for chromosome stability and cell division. Calcium activates several enzyme systems and neutralizes organic acids in plants. Plant growth and fruit yield can be reduced by inadequate calcium supply long before deficiency symptoms become evident.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium is the center of the chlorophyll molecule. It is involved in photosynthesis and plays an important role as an activator of several enzymes. It is also involved in carbohydrate metabolism and synthesis of nucleic acids. Magnesium influences the movement of carbohydrates from the leaves to other parts of the tree and also stimulates phosphorus uptake and transport.

Sulfur (S)

Many plants use about as much sulfur as they do phosphorus. Sulfur is an essential constituent of many proteins. Sulfur is important for the production of amino acids, proteins, and chlorophyll, and is a constituent of vitamins and some plant hormones. Protein synthesis is retarded in sulfur-deficient plants. Sulfur enhances the development of nodules and nitrogen fixation by legumes. It improves root growth and promotes vigor and hardiness. Sulfur also affects carbohydrate metabolism.

You may be wondering, if there are macronutrients are there micronutrients?  The answer is yes.  Come back tomorrow to read about these eight nutrients.

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