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NUTRIENT DEFICIENCY DISORDERS IN PLANTS

Nutrient deficiency disorders occur when a plant cannot access all of the 16 elements classed as essential for it to survive. Of the 92 mineral elements that exist, only 60 have been found in plants and of these only 16 elements are essential for plant growth. In order to be classed as essential for plant growth, an element must be necessary for the plant to complete its life cycle, have a specific action, be directly involved in the nutrition of the plant and not antagonise a toxic effect of another element.

For more information on nutrient deficiency please click here Below is a list of the 16 essential elements and their nutrient deficiency symptoms. This is broken down into macro-elements which are required in quite large quantities and micro-elements, also known as trace elements, which are required in very much smaller amounts.

Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms

macro-elements

  • Carbon 450,000ppm Present in all organic compounds so cannot be deficient

  • Hydrogen 60,000ppm Present in air so is never deficient.

  • Oxygen 450,000ppm Present in air so is never deficient.

  • Phosphorus 2,000ppm Dark green foliage, purpling or reddening of leaves and/or petioles.

  • Potassium 10,000ppm Young leaves show reddening or interveinal yellowing. Surface becomes shiny. Older leaves show marginal burn or necrotic spotting.

  • Nitrogen 15,000ppm Yellowing (Chlorosis) of the plant. The older leaves are normally affected first.

  • Sulphur 1,000ppm Yellowing of the whole plant usually starting with the youngest leaves.

  • Calcium 5,000ppm Death of the growing tip. Species specific disorders in fruit crops (such as blossom end rot in tomatoes) apply.

  • Magnesium 2000ppm Strongly coloured chlorosis of leaf margins or interveinally often accompanied by strong reddening on the edges of the chlorotic areas. In woody plants the green area of the leaf may form an “arrowhead”

micro-elements
  • Iron 100ppm Interveinal yellowing. Total bleaching of young leaves may occur in severe cases. This is followed by necrosis. Young leaves are always affected first.

  • Molybdenum 0.1ppm General pallor is seen in legumes. A mottled pale look is apparent in non- legumes. Marginal burn is seen in mature leaves.

  • Boron 20ppm Growing points die. Bursting of auxiliary buds may occur and some species may exhibit leaf distortion. Cracking of petioles in celery and hollowness in some root vegetables is also apparent. Fruit may show woody pits or cracking and distortion may occur.

  • Copper 6ppm Young leaves die, fruit does not set and fertilisation fails. Citrus plants will show ”S” shaped shoots and fruit gumming.

  • Manganese 50ppm Middle leave are affected first with interveinal Chlorosis. Severe cases may show necrotic streaks and spots.

  • Zinc 20ppm Rosetting, small leaves and in less severe cases chlorotic mottling may occur.

  • Chlorine 100ppm Chlorosis and then necrosis with leaves wilting. Marginal and leaf tip burning may occur. Roots may be thickened at the tip and appear stunted




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