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Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and so many others micro-nutrients for better growth. Proper plant nutrition helps to prevent disease, maintain food production and makes for potent bud etc. When plants don't get enough minerals from the soil, additional nutrients must be added. Different growth phases need different types of nutrients. Some other special micronutrients are also available for bigger, sweeter yield.
The suspended roots of plants in hydroponic medium become weary and eventually die when immersed in only water. This is due to the fact that pure water solution lacks minerals that are necessary for plant growth. Growing plants the soil-less way requires an effective nourished supply of nutrient solution for proper growth. The use of liquid fertilizers that contain all elements required by your plants for successful growth is needed for ideal growth conditions. This will result in uneven growth and low harvest. Hydroponic root systems have more direct contact with nutrients than geoponics, hence a good source of nourishment will lead to a bountiful garden.
In cases of geoponic planting- planting systems in soil, plants have to struggle even more to absorb essential elements. Growth essentials are absorbed upwards in a technique of cation exchange where by root hairs release H+ into the soil , these H+ ions displace cations that are fastened to negatively charged soil particles to allow easy uptake of nutrients by roots through the help of capillarity forces. The nutrients are sipped upwards to the roots of plants.
In many situations, plants' roots find it difficult to be able to get in contact with these minerals due to many factors such as shallow roots, soil biochemical structure, general soil fertility etc. Whatever the factors impeding the availability of minerals to your garden. Closer access to nutrients would solve this problem. Hence we add fertilizers to improve accessibility to soil nutrients for improved yield.
Aeroponic nutrients are also added as atomized spray particles to the roots of plants
In summary, no matter the type of planting systems employed, be it an outdoor or indoor gardening system, there is usually an extra need for nutrients as compared to that provided by nature. Plant nutrients are categorized into macro and micro nutrients.
Brief outlines of the functions of these nutrients are listed below.
- Nitrogen: It is the most sought nutrient by crops. Lack of nitrogen will lead to stunted growth and chlorosis. Nitrogen is the main component of amino acids which are responsible for growth in plants.
- Phosphorus: It is necessary for membrane development and function. It helps in energy transfers in the cell which is important for cell signalling. A deficiency of phosphorus can lead to reddening and denaturing of leaves.
- Potassium: It helps in circulation of mineral elements around the cells and tissues of the plants. It is in charge of solubility and regulation of moisture.
- Sulphur: The formation of chloroplasts and leads to yellowing of leaves when it is deficient in plant systems.
- Calcium: It is important for enzyme activation in plants which also takes place during photosynthesis. Calcium is also necessary for root development. A deficiency of calcium leads to stunted and shallow roots which can as well affect nutrient absorption due to lack of direct contact with minerals.
- Magnesium: It is the central metal atom in chlorophyll. A deficiency of it also leads to leaf discolouration.
Micro elements are those nutrients required in trace amounts. They include the following
- Boron- It is essential for flowering, fruiting of plants and strengthening of cell walls.
- Copper- It aids photosynthesis and formation of lignin.
Other micro minerals include silicon, sodium, aluminium, nickel, zinc, cobalt, chlorine and manganese.
Plants need a balanced and mineral nourished solution as much as we need balanced diet. Inadequate supply of nutrients would lead to complications such as sickness and in some cases death.