(N) NITROGEN

Nitrogen is essential for plant growth. Nitrogen is a part of every living cell. The two forms of nitrogen which plants take up are in the ammonia (NH4) and nitrate (N03) ion forms. Most agronomic crops take up most of their nitrogen in the nitrate ion form. Plants will utilize N in the (NH4) ion form if present and available to the plant. Lack of nitrogen and chlorophyll means that plants cannot utilize sunlight as an energy source to carry on essential functions such as nutrient uptake. Research has proven foliar or leaf applications of nitrogen is one form of application that can supplement a plants nitrogen requirements during the growing cycle.

  • Nitrogen is necessary for chlorophyll synthesis and as a part of the chlorophyll molecule is involved in photosynthesis.
  • Nitrogen is also a component of amino acids.
  • Nitrogen is needed for growth of plants.

From the Greek words “nitron genes” meaning “nitre” and “forming” and the Latin word “nitrum”. Discovered in Scotland by Daniel Rutherford in 1772.

(P) PHOSPHORUS

Phosphate is a very important plant nutrient (macro-nutrient) needed for the plant to complete its normal production cycle. The highest level of P in young plants is found in tissue at the growing stage. As plants mature most of the P moves into the flower and then to the seed or fruit.

  • Phosphorus is needed for photosynthesis.
  • Phosphorus is necessary for plant respiration.
  • Phosphorus is essential for energy storage and transfer.
  • Phosphorus is needed for cell division.
  • Phosphorus is necessary for cell enlargement.
  • Phosphorus is essential for several other plant processes.

From the Greek word “phosphoros” meaning “bringer of light” (an ancient name for the planet Venus?). Discovered in Germany by Hennig Brand in 1669.

(K) POTASSIUM

An important function of Potassium is it’s influence in efficient water use. It helps in the process of opening and closing of plant leaf pores, called the stomata. Potassium is found in cell walls which surround stomata. Adequate amounts of Potassium can increase stress conditions on plants during drought conditions. Potassium is also responsible for producing quality crops.

  • Potassium is essential for protein synthesis.
  • Potassium is important in the breakdown of carbohydrates, providing energy for plants.
  • Potassium helps to control ionic balance.
  • Potassium is important in the translocation of minerals.
  • Potassium helps plants to overcome effects of disease.
  • Potassium is essential in the fruit formation stage.
  • Potassium helps improve shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
  • Potassium is involved in the activation of more than 60 enzymes which regulate the rates of major plant growth reactions.

From the English word “potash” and the Arabic word “qali” meaning alkali (“K” comes from the Latin word “kalium”). Discovered in England by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1807.

  • Information courtesy of Sunlight Supply N-G-W.