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Nutrient Interactions

Nutrient Interactions Graph

Separate to the characteristics of individual nutrients and the effects of their deficiency in plants, plant nutrients interact with each other in many complex ways.

Agronomists try to work to identify and correct the nutrient-reducing growth the most. However, when one deficiency is corrected, another often becomes marginal for optimum growth.

Interactions between phosporus and potassium are common in pastures, while nitrogen and phosporus, nitrogen and potassium, phosporus and zinc, and nitrogen and copper frequently occur in crops. In these cases, the addition of one nutrient without the second may not improve growth.

An example is illustrated on the right.

The application of Super Phos or Potash alone improved pasture production slightly from 5.3 t per hectare to about 6.0 t per hectare. However, the application of these fertilisers together produced an increase in production up to 8.7 t per hectare.

Clearly, the plants were unable to take advantage of the phosporus in Super Phos alone, because potassium was limiting growth. In addition to the increased growth, the plots without K (Potash) were dominated by unpalatable and poor quality grasses and weeds.