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Unearthing the Importance of Essential and Beneficial Mineral Elements in Plant Nutrition | Criteria of Essentiality by Arnon & Stout

Nourishing Plants to their Genetic Potential: The Significance of Essential and Beneficial Mineral Elements in Agriculture

Mineral nutrients are essential for plant growth and development. The term essential mineral element (or mineral nutrient) was proposed by Arnon and Stout (1939), who concluded that three criteria must be met for an element to be considered essential.

These criteria are: a plant must be unable to complete its life cycle in the absence of the mineral element; the function of the element must not be replaceable by another mineral element; and the element must be directly involved in plant metabolism.

However, beneficial mineral elements can also have significant effects on plant growth and development. In this article, we will explore the importance of both essential and beneficial mineral elements in plant nutrition.

Criteria for Essential Mineral Elements

Arnon and Stout’s criteria are important guidelines for plant nutrition, as they ensure that plants receive the necessary mineral nutrients for their growth and development:

  1. Plants must be unable to complete their life cycle in the absence of the mineral element. This means that the element is necessary for the plant to survive and reproduce.
  2. The function of the element must not be replaceable by another mineral element. This means that the element is unique and cannot be substituted by other elements in its function.
  3. The element must be directly involved in plant metabolism, meaning that it is necessary for the plant’s biochemical processes.

Beneficial Mineral Elements

In addition to essential mineral elements, there are also beneficial mineral elements that can have positive effects on plant growth and development. Beneficial elements are those that can compensate for the toxic effects of other elements or may replace mineral nutrients in some other less specific function such as the maintenance of osmotic pressure.

The omission of beneficial nutrients in commercial production could mean that plants are not being grown to their optimum genetic potential but are merely produced at a subsistence level.

Effects of Inadequate or Excessive Mineral Nutrient Supply

An inadequate or excessive supply of mineral nutrients can have negative effects on plant growth and development. For example, an inadequate supply of nitrogen can lead to stunted growth, while an excessive supply of nitrogen can lead to excessive vegetative growth and reduced reproductive development.

Similarly, inadequate or excessive supply of other essential mineral elements can lead to various disorders, such as chlorosis, necrosis, and poor root development. It is therefore important to provide plants with a balanced supply of mineral nutrients.

Factors Affecting Mineral Nutrient Uptake and Utilization

Various factors can affect the uptake and utilization of mineral nutrients by plants. One of the most important factors is soil pH, which can affect the availability of mineral nutrients to plants. For example, iron and manganese are more available in acidic soils, while calcium and magnesium are more available in alkaline soils. Other environmental factors such as water availability, temperature, and light can also affect mineral nutrient uptake and utilization.

Providing Plants with a Balanced Supply of Mineral Nutrients

To provide plants with a balanced supply of mineral nutrients, various methods can be used. Fertilizers are commonly used to provide essential mineral nutrients to plants. Organic fertilizers such as compost and manure can also improve soil health and provide mineral nutrients.

Soil amendments such as lime and gypsum can be used to adjust soil pH and improve soil structure. Crop rotation and intercropping can also help to improve soil health and reduce pests and diseases.

Other Factors Affecting Plant Growth and Development

In addition to mineral nutrients, other factors such as water availability, temperature, and light also affect plant growth and development. For example, water is necessary for plant growth and is involved in various biochemical processes such as photosynthesis and nutrient uptake.

Insufficient water supply can lead to wilting and reduced growth, while excessive water supply can lead to root rot and other diseases. Temperature is also important for plant growth and development, as it affects the rate of biochemical reactions and physiological processes.

Different plant species have different temperature requirements for optimal growth and development. Light is also important for plant growth and development, as it is necessary for photosynthesis, which provides the energy for plant growth.

Conclusion

Mineral nutrients are essential for plant growth and development, and both essential and beneficial mineral elements play important roles in plant nutrition. The criteria proposed by Arnon and Stout for essential mineral elements provide important guidelines for plant nutrition, but it is also important to consider beneficial mineral elements in commercial production to achieve optimum genetic potential in plant growth and development.

Providing plants with a balanced supply of mineral nutrients is crucial for their growth and development, and various methods such as fertilizers, organic amendments, and crop rotation can be used to achieve this. Additionally, other factors such as water availability, temperature, and light also affect plant growth and development and should be considered when growing plants.

Overall, a holistic approach to plant nutrition is essential for achieving optimal plant growth and development.

Author

  • Shivam Singh Rajpoot

    A multifaceted individual with a passion for community building, blogging, software development. He is the founding editor of Community Scientist, Mithila Today, Convertkro.com, and many other future leading platforms. Originally from Madhubani, Bihar, Shivam is currently pursuing a degree in the College of Community Science at RPCAU, Pusa, with a focus on community development and engagement. In addition to his academic pursuits, Shivam is also a skilled developer with expertise in web development and programming.

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