Food is vital for everyone’s survival. Food provides nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins, fats, proteins and minerals which help us to grow, repair, and other life processes. The mode of obtaining nutrients varies in different organisms. Plants prepare food on their own by the process called photosynthesis while animals including humans depend on plants and other animals for their food. Is Sun the only source of nutrients for plants? No, plants depend on soil too, for the essential elements that are required for photosynthesis and other processes. Let us learn in detail about the role of soil in plant nutrition, how soil fertility affects the plant’s life and the significance of the replenishment of nutrients in the soil.
Soil Fertility and Replenishment
Most of us know that the sun is the ultimate source of energy. But elements for the preparation of energy sources come from down, deep under the soil. The food we obtain from plants is rich in carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. But from where do plants obtain them is a topic of higher concern. Soil fertility plays a significant role in the existence of plants and other forms of life.
Soil fertility means the potential of soil in a region to maintain plant growth. Fertile soil results in high yield and better quality plants. An ideal fertile soil is rich in fundamental elements and minerals, has good aeration, water holding capacity, and good texture. An ideal fertile soil is a dream of every farmer, especially when farming is a profit-based business. Farmers have to take care of the soil fertility on a monthly basis or at least annually. This can be done either naturally or artificially.
Plants produce carbohydrates (glucose) during photosynthesis. But for other mineral nutrients, they depend on soil. In the case of proteins, proteins are the nitrogen-containing compounds. Plants get nitrogen for protein synthesis from the soil. Unlike carbon dioxide and oxygen, atmospheric nitrogen cannot be obtained through stomata of leaves.
Rhizobium, species of bacteria lives on the roots of plants called legumes (e.g. pea plant) for their food and also help the plants in obtaining nitrogen from the soil. Rhizobium and natural phenomenon of lightning convert the nitrogen in the non-absorbable form into another usable form. This usable form of nitrogen gets dissolved in soil and plants absorb this modified nitrogen from the soil. This is why farmers do crop rotation, where leguminous plants help to replenish nitrogen content in the soil without the necessity of fertilizers.
As we know, soil fertility varies from one place to another. Plants growing on nitrogen deficient soil depend on small insects for nitrogen. Such plants are called insectivorous plants. Examples are Pitcher plant, Venus fly trap, etc.
Other than protein and carbohydrates, plants also need certain minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, etc. for the proper growth. In places where profit based farming takes place, farmers use artificial fertilizers to replenish nutrients in the soil for proper growth, high quality, and better yield products.
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