As with all things in Nature, the balanced cycle of nutrients determines the cycle of life.
The 5 “fundamental” elements sustaining all living things on earth are:
There are however, 94 elements that occur naturally which are essential for Plant Health and approximately 60 elements occurring in the human body, most of which have origins in our food, and therefore in our soils.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periodic_table (now including synthesized elements 118 in the periodic table)
Since the invention of synthetic fertilizers, there has been a focus on only the Major Nutrients that are required by plants: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).
The importance of the other 27 nutrients which are essential for Plant Health have been neglected. Every day new research is unlocking the importance of minor and micronutrients (trace elements) in plant and crop health, as well as in human health. If these nutrients are not available in sufficient quantities in the soil, then it is likely that they will be deficient in the plant. Therefore, it is essential that soils contain the correct balance of nutrients, in the required quantities.
When harvesting crops, we remove the nutrients (elements) which were extracted from the soil to produce nutrient-dense crops. Some of these Nutrients are replenished through natural cycles, especially where soils are healthy, but others result in soil deficiencies.
But excesses of any nutrient can be equally harmful. Often the overapplication of synthetic Nitrogen will cause plants to grow too quickly, resulting in “soft growth” which makes the plant vulnerable to pests, diseases, and environmental stress. Excesses of some nutrients can block the absorption of other crucial nutrients in a plant. A common example of nutrient toxicity is seen where farmers apply too much animal manure. Because the quantity applied is generally based on meeting the amount of Nitrogen required, they can accidentally end up with too much Sodium & Phosphate. Excess Phosphate restricts the uptake and absorption of Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn) and Zinc (Zn) in the plant. Talborne Organic fertilizers do not contain animal manures in their formulations.
Soil pH is also important because if soil is too acid or alkaline, it prevents uptake of certain nutrients. pH can also affect soil biology as Bacteria prefer a more alkaline pH and Fungi prefer a more acid pH. New research concludes that plants create the conditions for fungi to thrive in the soils. Suggest to remove the pH chart as it is old fashioned.
Every grower should aim to balance the nutrient requirements of crop with the available nutrients in the ground, correcting deficiencies, and excesses.
Soil, leaf and sap analysis are wonderful tools to ensure this balance is achieved. Talborne strongly recommends that growers continuously monitor their soils and keep a record of their interventions to optimise the uptake of nutrients that their crop requires.
Fertilizer which does not supplement the soils deficiencies to meet the crops requirements or too low levels of nutrients, means a compromised yield, poor quality, and wasted budget.
Too much fertilizer or the incorrect balance of nutrients for the crop is a waste of money and can even cause toxicity – again leading to poor yields and quality.