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Effects of nutritional deficiency in plant production

May 17, 2021
soyabean crop

Side-by-side visual comparison of soyabean crop with deficiency plants (left) and nutritionally balanced ACS-treated plants (right).

Like with all living things, there are many aspects that need to be taken into account when aiming for the best possible crop growth and performance. Only when these factors are all accounted for can we begin to see optimal plant production. Proper nutrition plays a key role here, giving the plant metabolism everything it needs to function efficiently. But producers need to find the right balance, as leaving a crop deficient in any of its essential nutrients can leave it susceptible to disease and other debilitating issues.

The productive potential of every plant depends solely on its genetic characteristics. In order to reach this potential, plants have specific requirements that must be met. These criteria include:

  • Temperature.
  • Light.
  • Water.
  • Nutrients.

Furthermore, each of these factors must be provided to the plant in the quantities and proportions suited to each stage of development, from germination to harvest.

In crop management, we use practices that provide the best conditions for plant development. Among these, we ensure that the plant is provided with:

  • Adequate irrigation.
  • Phytosanitary and weed control.
  • Physical preparation of the soil.
  • Correct adjustment of fertility.

Finally, we supply the specific nutritional quantities and balances required for each phenological phase of the crop and the productive potential of the chosen genetic material.

There are specific mineral elements considered essential for plant nutrition. They participate in some structural or physiological functions of the plant. Without these elements, development and productivity are compromised.

In terms of macronutrients:

  • Nitrogen provides more vigorous growth and boosts productivity.
  • Phosphorus maximizes root development and plant longevity.
  • Potassium, magnesium and sulfur intensify photosynthesis and the transport of photoassimilates, favoring a greater filling and maturation of fruits, tubers, pods, stems and grains.
  • Calcium participates directly in the development and growth of plant tissue structures.

When it comes to micronutrients, one of the main players to consider is boron. This participates in the formation of the polynic tube, the firmness of the peel of the fruits, the transport of carbohydrates and greater leaf growth. The same can be said for copper, manganese, zinc, chlorine and iron. These also participate in the metabolism of photosynthetic activity.

The picture above shows a visual representation of the effect these elements can have on plant production. Of the pictured soybean crops, those provided with the necessary macro- and micronutrients, through the use of Alltech Crop Science products, have a notable greener and more robust appearance.

Next, we need to think about the action of the enzyme reductase nitrate, which acts in amino acid production. Amino acids act as a natural chelate or complex. They bind to minerals and other molecules and facilitate increased absorption within the plant. To help promote this action as much as possible, molybdenum is fundamental. This trace mineral also contributes to the germination of pollen grains and helps to optimize fruit maturation and tissue resistance. Nickel is also crucial for similar reasons. It is an essential catalyst for numerous enzymatic activities related to carbon and nitrogen metabolism.

In secondary metabolism, deficiency or imbalance of any of these elements will trigger negative processes. Some elements, such as copper, manganese and zinc, are directly related to the activity of antioxidant compounds. These compounds act by reducing reactive oxygen species. The same elements also contribute to better lignification of tissues and lead to metabolic activities related to the defense system of the plant.

Deficiency or imbalance in required nutrients will restrict growth and the productivity processes in plants. There will also be adverse effects on the plant’s ability to defend itself, as it will become less resistant to diseases and pests.

It is, then, essential to provide and improve the efficient absorption of the specific and balanced quantity of nutrients required at each of the crop’s phenological stages. Alltech Crop Science offers a range of products with amino acid complexing technology that allows increased nutrient absorption efficiency, both for root and foliar application. These will enable you to better meet the plants’ requirements and achieve higher crop quality and productivity levels.

It is imperative to focus on the efficient supply of nutrients to plants, regardless of the crop, soil type and climatic conditions. Only when we address this issue can plants complete their production cycle adequately and aim at a more significant accumulation of assimilates. Ultimately, this will lead to them achieving a higher level of their productive potential. This will also result in greater final profitability for the producer.


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