In plant nutrition, it is important that there is no deficiency in primary or secondary macroelements or in essential microelements
Moreover, these elements must be present in the proper proportions.
Plants consume primary macronutrients in large quantities, while their intake of secondary macronutrients is lower. Each of these nutrients has a distinct function, necessary for nourishing the plant. A shortage in any of them leads to deficiencies, with different adverse effects on the plant’s general state, depending upon which nutrient is missing and to what degree.
Of the 60 chemical elements that comprise plants, 16 of them are essential. Of those 16, some are extracted from the air in the form of CO2 or water. These are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. If for now we set aside leaf fertilization and the three above-mentioned elements, the remaining 13 are extracted from the soil. These are divided into macronutrients and micronutrients, all of which are essential for crops.
Macronutrients are essential for plant growth and a good overall state of the plant. The primary macronutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
Nitrogen is essential for plant development, since it plays a fundamental role in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Nitrogen is absorbed by the plant in the form of a nitrate. This macronutrient is directly related to plant growth. It is indispensable for photosynthesis activity and chlorophyll formation. Nitrogen is involved, above all, in the aerial zone, the part of the plant that a person sees. It promotes cellular multiplication. A nitrogen deficiency results in a loss of vigor and color. Growth becomes slow and leaves fall off, starting at the bottom of the plant.
Phosphorus is involved in root growth, which it stimulates. In the aerial zone it favors flowering. Although phosphorus is also necessary during the plant’s growth period, it is much more involved in the flowering stage. Phosphorus is involved in transporting and storing energy. It improves the plant’s general state and increases the plant’s ability to withstand adverse climatological conditions. Phosphorus is essential in organic compound formation and the correct execution of photosynthesis. A shortage of phosphorous results in a late, deficient flowering, browning and wrinkling of the leaves, and a lack of vigor in general.
Potassium is involved in the regulation of water and the transport of the plant’s reserve substances. It increases photosynthesis capacity, strengthens cell tissue, and activates the absorption of nitrates. Potassium stimulates flowering and the synthesis of carbohydrates and enzymes. This, in turn, provides an increase in the plant’s ability to withstand unfavorable environments such as low temperatures, and prevents withering. Therefore, a lack of potassium reduces plant resilience to dry spells and frosts or to a fungus attack. This, in turn, results in a lack of balance among other nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and nitrogen. When there is a potassium insufficiency, dark spots appear on the leaves.
Secondary macronutrients are also essential, even though they are consumed in smaller quantities than N, P, K, that is, primary macronutrients. The secondary macronutrients are Calcium (Ca) Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S).
Calcium attaches to the walls of plant tissues, stabilizing the cell wall and favoring cell wall formation. Calcium is also involved in cell growth and development. It improves plant vigor, activating the formation of roots and their growth. Calcium contributes to mineral retention in the soil and to the transportation of such minerals. It neutralizes toxic substances in plants and contributes to seed formation. Calcium stabilizes and regulates several different processes, and a calcium insufficiency causes yellow and brown spots on the leaves. It also slows plant growth in general.
Magnesium constitutes the core of the chlorophyll molecule and is therefore essential for photosynthesis. This makes it an indispensable element for plant development. Magnesium promotes the absorption and transportation of phosphorus. It contributes to the storage of sugars within the plant. Magnesium performs the function of an enzyme activator, and in fact activates more enzymes than any other nutrient. Magnesium deficiencies result in weak stalks, loss of greenness in the oldest leaves, and the appearance of yellow and brown spots, even though the leaves’ veins remain green.
Sulfur participates in the formation of chlorophyll. It is necessary for performing photosynthesis and intervenes in protein synthesis and tissue formation. Sulfur is fundamental in the metabolizing of nitrogen, since it improves nitrogen efficiency. Sulfur also improves plant defenses in general. A shortage of sulfur is rare, but when it does occur, the plant becomes lighter in color, taking on a pale green appearance. A general chlorosis is seen, similar to what occurs with a nitrogen deficiency.
Crop Nutritional Monitoring
At AGQ Labs we have been working for more than 25 years in the continual monitoring of plant needs at any given time. In a practical and dynamic manner, throughout the growing season, we monitor the crop’s needs for water and nutrients, in order to adjust the irrigation and fertilizer regime to that demand.
Moreover, with such monitoring we achieve a sustainable agricultural practice, because there is no leaching that contaminates the aquifers or harm the soil structure. The result is:
- Minimization of environmental impacts
- Optimization of nutritive irrigation
- Better quality product
- Important savings in fertilizer costs
- Greater productivity and larger yields
To accomplish this, we have developed an internal Crop Nutritional Monitoring procedure, based on analyzing soil solutions extracted using our patented suction probes.
At all times, our guarantee is based on the know-how gained by AGQ Labs over the course of our history. Through our continual efforts, we have reached optimal reference values for the major crops. Our agronomists from around the world are experts in the interpretation of all this information, thus contributing the greatest value in matters of irrigation and nutrition.
Feel free to contact our Agronomist department for more information.