What is Plant Nutrition

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In the processes by which the living organisms obtain matter and energy is called as nutrition. All the processes involved in the taking in and utilization of food substances by which growth, repair and maintenance of activities in the body as a whole or in any of its parts are accomplished are included in nutrition. Food is the most important and basic thing for life. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are the components of food. These components are necessary for all living beings. All plants and animals require food for their growth and getting energy. The process of utilization of food by an animal to obtain energy for growth and development is known as nutrition. Some organisms (green plants and some bacteria) use inorganic substances like carbon dioxide and water to prepare their own food. These are called the Autotrophs. Other organisms (animals and fungi) use complex substances. These complex substances are broken down to simpler molecules are called heterotrophs.

Mineral Nutrition

The study of how plants obtain mineral elements, either through water, air or soil and utilize them for their growth and development is called mineral nutrition. In concerned with the complexes of biosynthetic events by which higher plants produce organic materials from inorganic materials absorbed from their environment. These events include the absorption process itself, the translocation of absorbed mineral from root to stem, leaves, fruits and finally conversion of absorbed (inorganic) nutrients to organic form. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are the main elements in carbohydrates, fats and proteins. These are referred to as mineral elements. If the minerals are not available to plants, specific symptoms appear due to the deficiency of a particular element. There are methods to determine the requirement of minerals by plants. Some such method is given below.

Methods to Determine the Requirement of Mineral for Plant

Minerals are absorbed by plants in solution form. So it is possible to grow plants in water containing the desired amount of mineral salts taking care that the aerial parts are exposed to air and light. The technique of growing plants in a nutrient solution or water culture without soil as a rooting medium is called hydroponics. It was demonstrated for the first time by a German Botanist Julius Von Sachs in the year 1980. Some vegetables and ornamental plants like carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and roses are grown by hydroponics. When plants are grown by this method, they are supported in shallow tanks of nutrient solution on wire netting with their roots dipped in. In water Culture experiments, seedlings are made to grow in water containing the known nutrients in a particular proportion. Vigorous bubbling of the air is routinely done to provide sufficient oxygen to the root system. The culture solutions may contain all essential nutrients except the one whose importance is to be identified. Then the plant growing in it is compared to the one growing with all essential nutrients (control experiment). Although this technique involves high cost even then it has advantages;

Useful in infertile and dry soils,

The plants grown are free of soil pathogens and free weeding problem,

Out of season vegetables and flowers can be obtained,

Gives better yield.

Image showing experimental set up for nutrient solution culture of plants.

Experimental Set Up for Nutrient Solution Culture of Plants.

Image showing experimental set up for nutrient solution culture of plants.

Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium (known as geoponics). Aeroponic culture differs from conventional hydroponics, aquaponics, and in-vitro (plant tissue culture) growing. Unlike hydroponics, which uses a liquid nutrient solution as a growing medium and essential mineral to sustain plant growth; or aquaponics which uses water and fish waste, aeroponics is conducted without a growing medium. The basic principle of aeroponic growing is to grow plants suspended in a closed or semi-closed environment by spraying the plant's dangling roots and lower stem with an atomized or sprayed, nutrient-rich water solution. Because water is used in aeroponics to transmit nutrients, it is sometimes considered a type of hydroponics. Citrus plants and olives have been successful grown through aeroponics.

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