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Plant Nutrition

In this section we present the main raw materials of our work, the plant nutrients.

The presented texts are the result of the compilation of different studies on the subject and are put forth in an organized and systematic way, according to the nutrient in question.

The objective of this material is not to exhaust the subject of plant nutrition, but to present the basic information on the subject so that we can improve the use of fertilizers and, consequently, the nutritional balance of crops.

We at Microquímica recommend the reader to consult the original works cited here in order to get a more in-depth picture and to complement the information presented here.

Good reading!



Plants are autotrophic, they need elements that are essential to complete their cycle. As they grow, plants increase in biomass and energy. The carbon and energy are obtained through photosynthesis, while the mineral nutrients are absorbed from the soil solution.

The mineral nutrients accumulate in different cellular compartments and may act as metabolic regulators. They may also be stored until the moment they are to be incorporated into the cellular metabolism, at which time they can potentially make up approximately 105 types of organic molecules.

For an element to be considered essential, it must satisfy three criteria proposed by Arnon and Stout (1939):

- In the absence of the element, the plant does not complete its life cycle.

- The element cannot be replaced by another.

- The element must be directly involved in the metabolism of the plant as a constituent of an essential compound, or it must be necessary for the action of an enzyme system.

- Based on these criteria, the following chemical elements are considered to be essential for plants and, therefore, nutrients.

- The separation between macro and micronutrients is based solely on the concentration at which the element is found in the dry matter of plants.

Primary Macronutrients: N, P, K
Secondary Macronutrients: Ca, Mg, S
Micronutrients: B, Co (legumes), Cu, Cl, Fe, Ni, Mn, Mo, and Zn















Sources used as a basis for material

  • Malavolta, Euripides, 1981 - Manual of agricultural chemistry, fertilizers and fertilization, 3rd edition, São Paulo / SP, Publisher Agronomic Ceres
  • Malavolta, Euripides, 1980 - Elements Mineral Nutrition of Plants, Agricultural Publishing Ceres
  • Malavolta, Vitti, Oliveira - Assessment of Nutritional Status of Plants, Principles and Applications, 2nd edition, 1989 Brazilian Association for Research Potash and Phosphate - Piracicaba - SP
  • Raij, Soil Fertility and Fertilizer, 1991 Publisher Agronomic Ceres, S. Paulo and the Brazilian Association for Research Potash and Phosphate - Piracicaba - SP
  • Nutri-Facts - Archives of Agronomy No. 10, 1996 - POTAFOS