The total sum of methods by which the raw materials are received and utilized by the living organisms for their structure and maintenance of the body function is called nutrition. The inorganic nutrients are absorbed by the plants from the soil which acts as the reservoir of minerals. The analysis of inorganic nutrients for their absorption and metabolism is known as mineral nutrition. The mineral nutrients also deal with the sources of the inorganic nutrients. Several characteristics of minerals are examined via experiments, hydroponics, and aeroponics. Mineral elements are classified into two categories: (1) Essential and (2) Non-essential. The term essential elements were proposed by Aron and Stout in 1939. The basic criteria for essential minerals are as follows:
It should support the plant’s normal growth reproduction process.
The requirement of each mineral must be specific and if it is absent, it leads to malformation/disorder in plants.
It should be involved directly in metabolism. These essential elements can be further divided into two groups based on their finite requirements are microelements and macroelements. Macroelements are essential for the plantâ€™s growth in large amounts (1-10mg/g of dry weight). Examples: Potassium, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Carbon, Calcium, Hydrogen, Sulphur, and Magnesium. However, the absence of certain macroelements leads to deficient and these are known as critical elements. They are Phosphorus, Potassium, and Nitrogen. Functions of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen:
Involved in the synthesis of protoplasm
Accountable for the growth of osmotic potential inside the cell. Further essential elements are classified based on their functions are as follows: (i) Constituent of organic biomolecules, (ii) Component of energy-related chemical compound, (iii) Activators and inhibitors of enzymes, and (iv) Regulator of the osmotic potential of cells. Plants need microelements in trace amounts (> 1 mg/ g of dry weight). Examples: Manganese, Nickel, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Molybdenum, Chlorine, and Boron. Functions of Manganese, Nickel, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Molybdenum, Chlorine, and Boron
Mainly involved in the functioning of enzymes
Mainly acts as an activator of enzymes.
Minerals determine soil fertility: Most of the earthâ€™s crust is covered by sedimentary rock, which forms primary materials for a major part of the soil. Nutrient element contents of the soil are directly influenced by the soil parent material. The direct influence of the nutrient elements can be found in the young soils, which starts diminishing when the increase in soil weathering and soil age. At elevated temperatures, primary minerals are formed from the cooling magma during metamorphism or the original rock solidification. They are generally formed from metamorphic and igneous rocks in the soil. Most of the soils have micas, feldspars, and quartz as the primary mineral components. Hornblendes and pyroxenes can also be found in the soil in smaller amounts. Except in highly weathered and sandy soils, primary minerals are widely distributed in most of the soil types. These minerals act as a significant reservoir for Potassium, with more than 90% potassium in soils. In the feldspars, significant amounts of sodium, calcium, and silicon are found along with a smaller quantity of Copper and Manganese. In many soils, illite and micas are also the most significant source of potassium. They also include Ferrous, Magnesium, Sodium, Calcium and Silicon, and few micronutrients. Pyroxenes and amphiboles are important reservoirs of Calcium, Manganese, Silicon, and Ferrous.
Secondary Minerals and Soil Fertility
Unlike primary minerals, the secondary minerals are formed during the weathering of primary minerals by low-temperature reactions in the aqueous environment at the surface of the earth. Nutrients are primarily controlled by secondary minerals via dissolution-precipitation, adsorption-desorption, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Adsorption reactions with minerals are very significant for plant nutrient element availability controlling rather than the nutrient elements release by mineral weathering.
Experiment to prove the presence of minerals in the soil: Materials required: matches, raw cotton material, sugar box, glass bowl, pen, candles, glasses, soil, and water. Procedure: Prepare at least 3 days before the day of the experiment:
In the bottom of a sugar box, draw a circle with a glass diameter.
Poke holes with a pen within the circle.
With melted candle wax, seal the inside of the box.
In the filter, lay the material piece for preventing the soil from getting washed away.
To the filter, add about a half glass of dry soil.
Keep the filter over a glass.
Add a glass of water. The filtrate should be cloudy.
In a clear glass bowl, put the filtrate and dry in the sun for one or two days.
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