Plants have the unique ability to produce their own food through photosynthesis, but they still need certain essential nutrients to grow and reproduce. These nutrients are found in the soil surrounding their roots, and include elements such as phosphorus, chlorine, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, boron, copper and zinc. In addition, plants need nitrogen in the form of nitrate or ammonium ions. Trace elements such as iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron and molybdenum are also necessary for plant growth.
The three main nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), which together form the trio known as NPK. The role of these nutrients in plant growth is complex and varies between different plants and species. For example, a relationship between potassium nutrition and cold resistance has been found in several species of trees. Soil is an important source of nutrients for plants, but in some cases fertilizers may be necessary to provide the necessary nutrition for a full life cycle.
Plant nutrition is a complex topic that requires a thorough understanding of the chemical elements and compounds necessary for plant growth and reproduction. It is important to note that selenium is an essential mineral element for animal nutrition (including humans) and selenium deficiencies can occur when food or feed is grown in selenium-deficient soils.