Soil Nutrients: How soil become a treasure of nutrients?
It is beneficial for farmers to understand which nutrient plays a significant role in farming.
Every farmer knows well that sunlight, air, water, and soil are essential for agriculture. It is from these that the plants get all the essential nutrients. The entire process of farming is linked to ensuring a continuous flow of these nutrients. That is why it is beneficial for farmers to understand which nutrient plays a major role in farming. In the present article, Kisan of India has collected such interesting and scientific information so that by keeping these in mind, farmers can become more alert and competent about their produce and its quality.
Sun, Wind, and Water
Photosynthesis, or the process of preparing food, occurs in plants through light or sunlight, and heat. If the plants cannot get sunlight, then artificial light can also be given to them. Scientists have found in their experiments that by getting continuous light, the process of photosynthesis can also continue continuously in plants, and due to this, they can grow many times faster.
Plants also need carbon dioxide (CO2) and moisture or water to carry out the process of making food. They get carbon dioxide very easily from the air or atmosphere and oxygen from the air for breathing. Small amounts of oxygen are also needed by those parts of the plants which are buried in the soil. When the soil is made friable by plowing the field, it becomes easier for the parts of the plants buried under the soil to get oxygen.
Loose soil also can store more moisture for plants. Due to this ability, moisture or water is continuously supplied to the plants from the soil. In the event of drought, plants try to absorb some moisture from the air to survive, but this does not meet their water requirement, and they have to depend on the moisture found in the soil to compensate for it that is why rain or irrigation is needed to maintain the soil moisture cycle.
Soil is a treasure trove of 16 Nutrients
Under photosynthesis, plants cook or manufacture their food through chemical reactions between nutrients from sunlight, air, water, and soil. Soil supplies 16 nutrients to plants. The good growth of any crop and the profit from farming depend on these nutrients. Their names are – Carbon (C), Hydrogen (H), Oxygen (O), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potash (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), Zinc (Zn), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Boron (B), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo) and Chlorine (Cl).
A balanced ratio of these 16 nutrients is present in the excellent farming soil. All round development and growth of plants depends on these 16 nutrients. Deficiency of any one of these adversely affects the yield. Soil testing is done only to know the details of the nutrients present in the soil.
Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen
Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are such essential nutrients that plants get directly from the atmosphere apart from the soil. Its fertility can be maintained only by the abundance of organic matter in the soil, because these organic matter increase the quantity of those micro-organisms that make it fertile in the soil, which ultimately provide nutrients to the crop. Replenishment of carbon in the soil is easily accomplished by the reduction or decomposition of crop residues and many other organic matter. However, if there is a need to increase the carbon content in the soil, farmers use ash or biochar.
Categories of Soil Nutrients
After carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, the remaining 13 nutrients of the soil are divided into three categories. These have been called major, secondary and micronutrients.
1. Primary or main nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash. Plants need them in large quantities, hence they are called major nutrients. In the soil, it is made available in both the form of manure and fertilizers. In order to increase the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash in the soil in the form of manure, it is very important to give balanced and recommended amounts of compost, vermicompost or rotten cow dung. If these major nutrients are added to the soil like chemical fertilizers in the form of Urea, DAP and Muriate of Potash, then the acidity of the soil increases.
Along with chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers like rotten cow dung, earthworm manure, neem, karanj and mahua cake have to be added to overcome the acidity of the soil. To compensate for nitrogen, farmers usually add urea to their crops. But the soil gets only nitrogen from urea, that too about 46 percent. Whereas by adding DAP i.e. diammonium phosphate, apart from phosphorus (46%), nitrogen (18%) is also available. Similarly, application of Muriate of Potash provides only potash (60%) to the soil.
2. Micronutrients like iron, zinc, copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum and chlorine. All these nutrients are also needed by each plant for its proper development. However, plants exploit only their trace amounts, hence they are called micronutrients. Generally sufficient amount of micronutrients is present in the soil, but occasionally zinc sulphate and borax have to be added to increase the boron to make up for zinc deficiency.
Also Read: Soil Nutrients: Know the effect on crops
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