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Nutrient Cycle

Out of 92 naturally occurring chemical elements only 18 have been identified as essential elements (or nutrients) without which plants cannot grow and complete their life cycles. Elements essential for plant growth include: C, H, O, N, P, K, S, Ca, Mg (so called macronutrients, used by plants in relatively large amounts), Fe, Mn, B, Zn, Cu, Cl, Co, Mo, Ni (so called micronutrients, used by plants in small amounts).  

These essential nutrients play various roles in the structure and metabolism of plants. They are continuously cycled through the atmosphere-soil-plant system according to specific transformation and transport processes. Some of these processes occur in soils and make elements available to plant roots and soil organisms.  

This section will describe the cycles of five of these nutrients, i.e. potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon.

 

Faculty of Land and Food Systems
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA