Identifying nutritional deficiencies in backyard plants

Page last updated: Monday, 13 August 2018 - 4:49pm

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Factors affecting nutrient uptake

Nutrient availability
  • Some soils are naturally infertile and devoid of nutrients.
Soil pH
  • The pH should be neutral which is 7 or close to 7. When the pH of the soil is too low or high (0 indicates extreme acidity and 14 indicates extreme alkalinity) essential nutrients become unavailable. At high pH values, phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, boron and manganese become less available.
Soil structure
  • Soil particle size and chemistry affect the way in which water and nutrients are retained and taken up by the plant. Soils high in loam or clay have a higher water and nutrient retention compared to sandy soils where nutrients are easily leached out. Some south-west clay soils are high in iron and aluminium which bind phosphorus to the soil, making it unavailable to the plants.
Sufficient water
  • This is essential for the uptake of nutrients. Underwatering or overwatering the plants may lead to nutrient deficiencies.
  • Undeveloped or insect damaged roots are ineffective in taking up nutrients.
Environmental conditions
  • Extremes of temperature will inhibit nutrient uptake. For example, it is common for home gardeners to see yellow lawns or yellow citrus trees in winter.