Why Nutrients in Soil Are Important
Soil doesn’t just provide plants a base to grow on but also provides them with essential nutrients required for growth. Any experienced gardener would tell you about soil enrichment and how you need to make it suitable for your plants. You can always search for “topsoil near me” and get high-quality topsoil rich in both essential minerals and organic matter for your plants. However, knowing the composition of the soil and the nutrients lets you figure out what’s missing and adjust accordingly. Let’s check out why nutrients in the soil are important:
- Nitrogen – While oxygen is a major element that sustains human life, Nitrogen plays the same role for plants. It is found in plant hormones, plant cells, and even in chlorophyll. Some plant groups like legumes even go the extra way of enriching the soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen to their roots. You can also buy artificial sources of nitrogen like fertilizers. Factory-made fertilizers have ammonium sulfate, urea, or ammonium nitrate that is made by extracting nitrogen from the air. When you add these compounds to the soil, they are converted to mineral nitrogen that is easily absorbed by plants. However, you need to be careful about the quantity of nitrogen you add to the soil. The perfect amount lets plants absorb most of it. If large quantities of nitrogen are present in the soil, a downpour can easily turn the soil acidic and kill your plants.
- Potassium – If you live in a region where the soil is low in potassium, you need to be careful about what you plant. Sandy soil usually doesn’t hold enough potassium for plants and that’s why it needs to be artificially added and enriched. Moreover, if you plant horticultural crops like apples or bananas, potassium is quickly sucked away from the ground. The element helps plants to grow quickly and also stimulates their roots. Without it, plant growth can be very slow. Apart from that, it also helps plants fight diseases and increase immunity.
- Phosphorus – Phosphorus is another key element that is found in all living plant cells. You need to make sure that your plants get enough of it so that they can grow well and reproduce at an adequate rate. Plants use it in large amounts since it is used in many key functions like photosynthesis, energy transfer, the transformation of starches and sugar, and even the movement of nutrients within the plant. Phosphorus is essential for reproduction since it acts as the building block of chromosomes and genes. Plants use it to transfer genetic code from one generation to the next one. The most evident effect of Phosphorus deficiency in plants is the build of carbohydrates that causes discoloration or distortion of the leaves. You’ll also get reduced produce and fruit production from the plant.
- Sulfur – Sulfur is another major nutrient that’s required for growing any kind of crop or plant. Also known as the “4th major nutrient”, it is the building block of amino acids, oils, and protein. It’s also responsible for many flavors and aromas in plants. For instance, you won’t get that pungent kick from onions or the distinct flavor of cabbage without sulfur. Organic matter is the best and sustainable source of sulfur. Add it to the soil and it will decompose to mineralize sulfur that can be easily absorbed by the plants. However, this may not be the case for crops grown in the cold season. Decomposition is slowed due to the fall in temperature and plants may have a harder time absorbing it. Fortunately, you can rely on gypsum, superphosphate, and other such compounds to get rid of sulfur deficiency.
- Magnesium – Apart from nitrogen, magnesium is also a key element of chlorophyll. Without it, plants wouldn’t be able to make food and the entire food chain would collapse. However, this element is highly deficient in sandy and acidic soil and can easily get washed away in areas with high rainfall. Soil rich in magnesium can also get deficient in it very quickly if you grow horticultural crops or a lush patch of grass. To reduce magnesium deficiency, you can add Epsom salt, magnesite, or dolomite to the salt.
- Calcium – While leaves are very important for making food and harnessing the energy of the sun, roots play an equally vital role. Apart from grabbing onto the soil for stability, they are also responsible for transferring nutrients and water to the plant from the soil. That’s why calcium is so important. It promotes root health and also facilitates the growth of new roots. Like most other elements, you won’t find adequate quantities of calcium in acidic soil. To prevent calcium deficiency, you can add gypsum, dolomite, or even the cheapest option on the market – lime. If the soil is deficient in both calcium and magnesium, dolomite is the ideal choice. On the other hand, you can use superphosphate to prevent deficiency of both calcium and phosphorus in the soil.
- Copper – While it isn’t needed by plants in large quantities, copper is an important micronutrient that aids plants in many ways. It acts as a catalyst during photosynthesis and also activates enzymes that are required for lignin synthesis, a complex organic polymer that creates structural materials in plant tissues. Plants also use copper for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates. To reduce copper deficiency, you can use copper sulfate or copper oxide fertilizers.
- Iron – Iron isn’t just a micronutrient for most living animals, but also plants. But don’t let the name fool you. Among micronutrients, plants need it the most. For instance, plants need 20 times more iron than copper. Apart from energy production, it also aids in the reduction of sulfate and nitrate in plants.
By now you aren’t just aware of basic soil nutrients like Potassium, Phosphorus, and Nitrogen but also about other nutrients that aid in the growth and promote the health of your plant. When you search for “topsoil near me” you can avail the soil with the perfect nutritional balance.