Essential Minerals are needed to keep plants healthy and growing properly. Plants absorb dissolved minerals in the soil through their roots.
The minerals are natural present in the soil, although usually quite low concentrations. So, farmers use fertilisers containing essential minerals e.g. (NPK) to make sure that plants get all the minerals they need to grow.
Each mineral is needed for a different purpose:
- Nitrates (N) - to make proteins for cell growth.
- Potassium compounds (K) - for respiration and photosynthesis.
- Phosphates (P) - for respiration and cell growth.
- Magnesium - for photosynthesis.
Essential Minerals (Continued)
If one or more of the essential minerals is missing (deficient) from the soil, the growth of the plant will be the affected.
Experiments can be carried out to see how removing one mineral affects the plants. This is done by growing plants in a soil-less culture. The minerals can then be carefully controlled and changed.
Nitrates are used to make amino acids that form proteins. Potassium is used to help the enzymes in respiration and photosynthesis. Phosphates are used to make DNA and cell membranes. Magnesium is used to make chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
Substances sometimes need to be absorbed from a low to high concentration area, i.e. against a concentration gradient. This is called active transport and it requires energy from respiration.
Plants absorb mineral ions through their root hair by active transport.