Essential Nutrients For Crops Growing Cycle
Sunlight, seeds, media and water have been the basic elements in growing a crop. However, for a healthy crop to thrive, micro and macronutrients in sufficient quantities is required
Studies have shown that there are several elements that are essential for plant growth : carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulphur (S), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe) and many other micro trace elements. Most of the elements could be obtained by the plant naturally via atmosphere and water, like Carbon, H and O. The remaining essential elements is normally grouped into 3 main categories, primary nutrients, secondary macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. (Reference : IFA, International Fertilizer Association)
If a single essential plant nutrient is insufficient during the growth cycle of a plant, it will stun / affect plant growth thus the yield. By practice, N, P & K elements have been thought to be the most widely deficient elements both in soil and water but, nowadays elements such as Sulphur, Zinc and Boron are increasingly deficient.
During harvesting of crops, nutrients from the soil is exported out, this is also known as soil nutrient mining. The nutrients that are exported by harvest is specific to each crop types and species. Therefore to maintain soil fertility and sustainability, nutrients need to be replaced back either by organic sources or manufactured sources. (Reference : IFA, International Fertilizer Association)
Organic sources of mineral nutrients could be from natural happening like rock weathering, atmospheric deposition, compost or livestock manure (commonly known is chicken dung fertilizer). However to be able to cope with the current crop production cycle, the natural cycle of organic source fertilizer is not replacing the nutrients fast enough, therefore the introduction of manufactured straight, premixed fertilizers is needed for optimum plant growth. (Reference : IFA, International Fertilizer Association)
Fertilizers containing only one primary nutrients are often called straight fertilizers, those with the 3 primary nutrients (N,P,K) are called multi nutrients. Each feertilizer have their own advantages as well as disadvantages, however the types of fertilizer used is totally dependent on the local soil / agro-ecological conditions as well as the crop types.
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