plant nutrient deficiency SYMPTOM AND NUTRIENT CYCLES, Plants require nutrients or elements obtained from the soil for good growth and healthy development. These elements or nutrients are classified into two main groups which are:

Macro-Nutrient of plant nutrient

Macro-nutrients are mineral elements or nutrients required by crops in large quantities. Examples of macro-nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and sulphur.

Micro Nutrients or Trace Elements of plant nutrient

Micronutrients are mineral elements or nutrients required by crops in small quantities.

Examples of micro-nutrient

are zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, iron, chlorine and manganese.


The functions of plant nutrients deficiency symptoms of these elements or nutrients are summarized below:

Elements Functions OF PLANT Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms
1 Nitrogen (i) It aids plants’ growth and reproduction because it is an essential constituent of all proteins

(ii) It increases the size of grain in cereals or carbohydrate synthesis
(iii) It promotes vegetative and short-system growth
(iv) Excess nitrogen delays maturation and fruiting
(v) It promotes the uptake of potassium and phosphorus from the soil
(vi) It promotes chlorophyll formation or the deep green colour of leaves
(vii) It is necessary for the synthesis of plant hormones/enzymes/auxins

(i) Stunted growth
(ii) Yellowing of leaves (Chlorosis)

Chlorosis is a yellowing of normally green leaves due to a lack of chlorophyll. Many factors, singly or in combination, contribute to chlorosis.
(iii) Leaves tend to drop
(iv) Poor formation of fruits and flowers

plant nutrient deficiency

2 Phosphorus

(i) It aids enzyme reactions
(ii) It is a constituent of the cell nucleus and essential for cell division
(iii) It increases crop resistance to diseases
(iv) It helps in the ripening of fruits
(v) It helps in root development, seed germination, fruit formation and maturity
(vi) It aids in seed germination
(vii) It aids fruit formation and maturity of plant nutrient deficiency
(viii) It improves the good taste of forages and vegetables (i) Logging results in cereal crops
(ii) Leaves turn to purple and brownish colouration from tip backwards
(iii) Stunted growth
(iv) Inhibition of flowering, fruits and seed formation
(v) Poor root development
(vi) Immature fruit drop

3 Potassium

(i) It is an important constituent of plant tissues
(ii) It aids the synthesis of carbohydrate
(iii) It activates various plant enzyme reactions
(iv) It promotes the development of young plants
(v) It is necessary for the neutralization of organic acids in plants

plant nutrient deficiency
(vi) It is associated with stomata movement and therefore influences water relationship within the plant
(vii) It is a major constituent of plant tissue
(viii) It helps in nitrate uptake from the soil

(i) Weak slender stems
(ii) Delayed growth
(iii) Premature loss of leaves

plant nutrient deficiency

(iv) Brown colour at the margin of leaves

4 Calcium

(i) It strengthens plant cell walls with calcium pectate
(ii) It helps in the translocation and storage of carbohydrates and proteins into sees and tubers
(iii) It controls the toxicity of aluminium manganese and sodium ions
(iv) It is necessary for the normal growth of root tips
(v) It strengthens plant cell walls – plant nutrient deficiency
(vi) It helps in high flocculation i.e. good aeration, water infiltration and retention
(vii) It improves the pH of the soil so that nitrogen fixation can be carried out (i) It causes stunting of the root system
(ii) There is an appearance of pale yellow colour in the leaves
(iii) Weak slender plants plant nutrient deficiency


5 Magnesium

(i) It is important in the synthesis of carbohydrates as it is a constituent of chlorophyll
(ii) It assists in the transportation of phosphate, as essential material for developing fruit seeds
(iii) It enhances plant growth- plant nutrient deficiency
(iv) It is required for normal cell division
(v) It is necessary for the synthesis of oils in plants (i) Chlorosis along the leaf veins
(ii) Stunted growth
(iii) Premature leaf fall

6 Sulphur (i) It is a constituent of plant proteins since it occurs in some amino acids such as cysteine and methionine
(ii) It is also a constituent of plant hormones such as biotin and thiamin
(iii) It is essential for chlorophyll formation
(iv) It is also required for carbohydrate metabolism and nitrogen fixation by legumes (i) Yellowing of leaves
(ii) Stunted growth
(iii) Poor rate of photosynthesis

7 Iron (i) It is necessary for chlorophyll formation
(ii) It is necessary for protein synthesis contained in chloroplasts
(iii) It is important in enzyme systems associated with oxidation and reduction reaction (i) Chlorotic condition in leaves, which becomes pale green

8 Manganese plant nutrient deficiency (i) It is a constituent of enzymes which are responsible for protein synthesis
(ii) It is important for certain nitrogen transformations in plants and micro-organisms (iii) Young leaves show pale greenish-yellow discolouration between veins— plant nutrient deficiency

9 Copper plant nutrient deficiency  (i) It is a constituent of certain enzymes
(ii) It is necessary for photosynthesis
(iii) It is involved in respiration and utilization of iron (i) Pale green colour of leaves
(ii) The tips of older leaves dry off and die
(iii) Young leaves tips die back
10 Zinc plant nutrient deficiency (i) It is involved in the action of certain enzymes (ii) Production of mottled or extremely small leaves
animals.html\”>reproduction because it is an essential constituent of all proteins

11 Boron (i) It is an important nutrient in protein synthesis
(ii) It facilitates the development of roots
(iii) It assists in the formation of fruits and seeds
(iv) It encourages the division of cells in the growing regions of plants
(v) It increases the yield
(vi) It facilitates nodulation in leguminous plants (i) It causes the death of tips of roots and shoots
(ii) Failure of flower buds to develop
(iii) It causes poor growth of plants
(iv) It causes breaking or lodging
(v) It decreases the rate of water absorption and translocation of sugars

12 Molybdenum (i) It aids nitrogen fixation acids and proteins
(ii) It is an essential part of the enzymatic system involved in facilitating nitrogen change, breakdown of leaf edges (i) Promotes metabolism of nitrates into amino acids and proteins
(ii) It causes mottled leaves
(iii) It leads to curling and
(iv) It causes premature flower drops