Classification of nutrients

What is an essential nutrient?

Essential nutrients are those nutrients needed by a plant to grow normal and to complete its life cycle. Sixteen elements were classified as essential for all crops. The essential nutrients are divided in macro-elements and trace-elements (also called micro-elements).

What is the difference between macro and trace elements?

The macro-elements are needed in large quantities. Only traces of the trace-elements or micro-elements are needed.

Do you know?

The trace elements occur in extremely small amounts in plants.

In a plant are, for an example, about 1 million nitrogen atoms (nitrogen is a macro – element) for every molybdenum atom (molybdenum is a trace element).

One hectare of cut roses in substrate needs 2 – 5 kg nitrogen per day, but they need only 1 – 3 grams copper per day.

As a matter of interest: If you irrigate your garden with a hose pipe connected to a copper tab, enough copper (copper is a trace element) will be released from the tab to supply your garden with adequate amounts of copper.

What are the names and symbols of the different nutrients?

The names and symbols of the nutrients are listed in the following table.

Macro-elements are:C (Carbon)
H (Hydrogen)
O (Oxygen)
N (Nitrogen)
P (Phosphate)
S (Sulphur)
K (Potassium)
Ca (Calcium)
Mg (Magnesium)
The trace-elements are:Fe (Iron)
Cu (Copper)
Mn (Manganese)
B (Boron)
Mo (Molybdenum)
Zn (Zinc)
Cl (Chlorine

All of these nutrients (macro – and trace elements) are needed by plants and must be included in a fertiliser program.