The Elements Important to Plants b_left.gif (236 bytes) 


Calcium:    Major component of cell walls, important for root tips and growth.
Deficiency: Poor root development with weak tips, distorted curled leaves with hooked tips.
Excess: causes iron deficiency in sensitive plants.

Magnesium:  Essential for chlorophyll formation and a cofactor for many enzyme reactions.
Deficiency: Leaf yellowing with brilliant colours.
Excess: causes calcium deficiency.

Nitrogen:   Essential for proper leaf and stem growth, protein synthesis.
Deficiency: Reduced growth, pale yellow-green leaves starting with oldest.
Excess: causes potassium deficiency.
Phosphorous:    Important for germination and growth of seeds, growth of roots, flower and fruit production.
Deficiency: Reduced growth, small bluish-green leaves becoming bronzy-purple or with scorched brown edges and falling off early, starting with the oldest.
Excess: causes potassium deficiency.
Potassium:    Promotes vigourous growth, disease resistance.
Deficiency: Stunted growth with closely spaced leaves. Scorched brown leaf tips and edges, rolled edges starting with oldest.
Excess: causes calcium and magnesium deficiency.
Sulphur:    Essential for protein synthesis and chlorophyll formation.
Deficiency: Slow growth with small, rounded brittle leaves.


Micronutrients - trace elements

Boron:    Required for sugar transport, calcium metabolism, water regulation and reproductive functions.
Deficiency: Scorched, mottled discoloured and curled leaves, starting with most recent. Distorted and dead growing points, hollow stems, deformed fruit.
Excess: scorched leaf edges (similar to potassium/magnesium deficiency).
Deficiency: stubby roots and wilting.
Excess: scorched leaf edges (similar to potassium/magnesium deficiency).
Copper:   Required for protein synthesis and reproductive functions.
Deficiency: leaves become bluish-green, wither or remain folded. Yellow-edged tips of young leaves. Abnormal rosette formation at growing points.
Excess: causes iron deficiency.

Iron:    Required for chlorophyll formation and production of oxygen. Necessary for chlorophyll synthesis.
Deficiency: Yellow leaves with green leaf veins, starting with most recent. May be caused by excess calcium.
Excess: scorched leaf edges (similar to potassium/magnesium deficiency)
Manganese:    Essential component of many enzymes and important for Chlorophyll formation.
Deficiency: Yellow leaves with green veins, white or grey flecks, starting with oldest.
Excess: causes iron deficiency and similar symptoms to manganese deficiency.
Molybdenum:   Essential for nitrogenase (nitrogen fixing) enzymes and formation of root nodules in beans and peas.
Controls nitrogen metabolism.
Deficiency: yellow mottling and dead spots on the leaves, distorted or dead growing points.
Zinc:    required for synthesis of proteins and affects size and maturity
Deficiency: Yellowing between leaf veins with purple/dead spots on the older leaves. Leaves small, deformed and closely spaced. Defective fruiting.
Excess: causes iron deficiency.

The four trace elements most likely to cause problems in grazing livestock in New Zealand





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