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Mineral Requirements Of Plants

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  • Last Updated : 15 Nov, 2022
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The naturally inorganic nutrients found in food and soil that are necessary for the healthy operation of an animal or plant’s body are known as minerals. Minerals are essential to organism survival. Micronutrients, such as boron, copper, and others, are needed by plants in tiny amounts, whereas macronutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are needed in larger quantities.

The process by which living things receive the nutrients they need for growth and development is known as nutrition. Chemicals known as nutrients are largely used by living things to carry out their numerous metabolic processes. For growth and development, plants require macromolecules like proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. Absorption is a component of mineral nutrition. Various inorganic compounds are transported and metabolically processed for their growth and development, anatomy, and sexual reproduction.

Methods to Study the Mineral Requirements of Plants

The methods to study the mineral requirements of plants are as follows: 

Hydroponics

The method of growing plants without soil is called hydroponics, aquaculture, or soilless culture. For example tomatoes, Strawberries, and many other plants can grow through hydroponics techniques. In a growing population, scientists believe hydroponic technology may be able to reduce impending food shortages. The hydroponic farming method is used to identify the signs of various nutrient deficiencies in plants and to identify crucial nutrients for the growth and development of the plant.

Hydroponic Nutrient Solution 

Plants get 3 nutrients from the air-carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen and 13 nutrients from supplemented water: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, chlorine, and molybdate.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

  • Ebb and Flow System: To provide stability, a medium like a perlite is needed. The tray containing the plants is periodically pumped with water and mineral solutions. The residual solution drains back into the reservoir after being absorbed by the plants. This straightforward approach is employed in backyard gardens. It is used to grow herbs.
  • Drip Systems: Similar to ebb and flow, but with smaller tubes that drain onto the tops of the plants. Using this technique, little plants with less established root systems are cultivated.
  • Nutrient Film Technique: The hydroponics system known as Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT, is well-liked and adaptable. In that the system uses a pump to feed fertilized water to the grow tray and a drain pipe to recycle the used nutrient solution, it is comparable to the Ebb and Flow method. The nutritional solution flows constantly over the roots in NFT, which is the difference. Gravity is employed to do this. A fresh solution is continuously poured into the high end of the tube, and the grow tray is angled to let the water flow down towards the drainpipe. The thin film of nutritional solution that flows over the roots ensures that they are adequately nourished and moistened without drowning them. The thin film makes sure that the tops of the roots are dry and may access the air’s oxygen.
Nutrient Film Technique

 

Advantages of Nutrient Film Technique

The finest plants for the Nutrient Film Technique are light, fast-growing plants that can be harvested right away because they don’t need much support. Simply make sure that you have the necessary support structures, such as trellises, in place if you wish to grow vegetables like tomatoes or squash. In this method, the roots are not suspended in a growing media, hence they are unable to support a heavy plant from the top.

Disadvantages of Nutrient Film Technique

  • A whole crop can be destroyed by a failed pump in a matter of hours.
  • Not recommended for use with plants that have extensive taproot systems.
  • Fails miserably with plants that demand a lot of support.

Advantages of Hydroponics

  • Plants grow more quickly, increasing the yield.
  • Where traditional farming is not feasible, plants can be grown.
  • Recycled and utilized nutrients and water.
  • It is possible to grow organic food without using pesticides or fertilizers.
  • A lot of space research programs use hydroponics.
  • When there is no access to soil, food can be grown hydroponically away from the earth.

Disadvantages of Hydroponics

  • Costly to set up. A hydroponics system is more expensive to buy and construct than a conventional garden.
  • At risk from power outages.
  • Needs ongoing maintenance and monitoring.
    Waterborne diseases. 
  • Quicker effects on plants.

Aeroponics

  • Plants can be grown without soil using an aeroponic system. Instead, a nutrient-rich mist is used to irrigate roots that are floating in the air.
  • In contrast, hydroponic systems involve periodically immersing plant roots in a nutrient-rich fluid.
  • Aeroponics produces healthier plants, much faster crop development rates, and higher yields since the roots have better access to oxygen.

How it Works?

A soilless medium is used to hold the roots of the fruits and vegetables cultivated hydroponically. When it comes to hydroponic growing mediums, there are several choices. This comprises Rockwool, perlite, vermiculite, and coco coir. Depending on the plants one wants to grow, each of the mediums has its own advantages and disadvantages.

In order to allow the roots of the plants to hang in the air, the plants are suspended in their pots. A special nutrient-rich mist is frequently sprayed on the now accessible roots to provide the plants with the nutrition they require. In order to allow the roots to spread out freely, the plants are initially wrapped in pieces of foam and inserted inside miniature pots with a netted foundation. While the opposite end of the roots continuously receives enriched mist, one end of the roots is exposed to light.

Aeroponics

Aeroponics

Sand Culture

In these societies, nutrient-supplied sand is used to cultivate plants. The pristine sand is rinsed in distilled water and placed in large jars loaded with acid. The sand occasionally receives nutrient solution added to it. Plant roots receive natural aeration here.

Advantages of Sand Culture

Botanical illnesses are significantly reduced in this way. These plants continue to grow because of the availability of nutrients. The soil bed doesn’t have any nutrient imbalances. Nutrient distribution is promoted by the strong capillary action of the sand.

Disadvantages of Sand Culture

  • Sand must first be rinsed with add because it is naturally very alkaline;
  • The sand becomes very warm in the summer and very cold in the winter, potentially harming plant roots;
  • Because sand has a very limited water-holding capacity, it requires frequent watering. Sand cultures are mostly utilized in laboratories for experimental work.

Difference between Hydroponics and Aeroponics

Hydroponics

Aeroponics

In hydroponics cultivating plants in nutrients rich water. Cultivating plants where roots are exposed to air.
Required lots of water. Required less water.
Include types of aquaponics and aeroponics. Include types of hydroponics.
Somewhat expensive. Have to establish indoors.
Used to hold the plant (clay, sand, or gravel). No such medium is used.

Essential Mineral Elements

The following two major groups of minerals are determined by their quantitative requirements:

Macrominerals

In general, plant tissues need a lot of the macrominerals phosphorous, carbon, sodium, nitrogen, potassium, silicon, magnesium, hydrogen, calcium, oxygen, selenium, and sulfur.

Microminerals

Microminerals or trace elements including iron, boron, nickel, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt, chlorine, and molybdenum are needed by plants in minute amounts.

Functions of Essential Mineral Elements

Plants need essential elements for plant growth and disease prevention and provide the energy required for the metabolic system. 

  • Phosphorus: By aiding in the transfer of carbohydrates, phosphorus promotes proper root growth and fruit ripening. 
  • Nitrogen: Enables the plant to capture sunlight energy by photosynthesis, driving plant growth and grain yield. 
  • Potassium: Plants require nitrogen to activate enzymes like DNA polymerase is potassium. 
  • Sulfur: It is necessary for the synthesis of proteins, amino acids, and oils. 
  • Magnesium: It is the primary, divalent atom of chlorophyll. Since they are necessary for photosynthesis
  • Calcium: The proper functioning of the cell membrane as well as cell division. This mineral also regulates metabolic processes.
  • Copper: Necessary for the respiration process. Activate a number of enzymes. Participates in the metabolism of cell walls.
  • Manganese: It’s necessary for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is made with the help of manganese.
  • Iron: Compared to other micronutrients, iron is needed in higher concentrations. It aids in the activation of enzymes and is a crucial component of protein. 
  • Boron: Boron is crucial for controlling plant hormone levels and fostering healthy growth. 
  • Chlorine: The evolution of oxygen in photosynthesis, and disease resistance and tolerance are only a few of its roles in plant growth and development.

Non-Essential Elements

Hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon are among the non-mineral components that plants require to survive. These are absorbed either as a gas or a liquid. A plant’s life cycle can be completed without the help of four elements, however, they are helpful in promoting plant growth. They are selenium, silicon, sodium, and cobalt.

FAQs on Mineral Requirements of Plants

Question 1: What elements are essential?

Answer:

A plant cannot complete its life cycle without an essential element, which plays a specific structural or physiological role in its activities of plants.

Question 2: What is hydroponics?

Answer:

Solution culture is a method for growing plants without soil from seed to maturity in a suitable nutritional solution. This method of plant development is referred to as hydroponics or soilless growing.

Question 3: Which hydroponic method is the best?

Answer:

The most dependable and well-liked hydroponic technique is called the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). The fundamentals are pretty simple to comprehend. The fact that plant roots come into close contact with a stream of nutrient solution is the most crucial aspect of NFT hydroponics.

Question 4: What is aeroponics?

Answer:

The sort of hydroponic system in which roots are hung in the air over the nutrient solution, which is whipped into a nutritious mist by a motor-driven rotor, is known as an aeroponic system, according to the answer.

Question 5: What is the sand culture technique?

Answer:

Plants can be grown hydroponically using sand culture. To grow herbs, flowers, and veggies, utilize this technique. Instead of using soil to attach plants, this method creates a bed of gravel and sand. This technique is quite effective and is often utilized in arid and dry middle eastern countries.


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