Plants are the only source of food for all other animals on earth. However, plants also need certain elements to grow properly. These nutrients need to be provided via the medium of soil. So let us learn more about the components of food plants provide and how to increase soil fertility to help plant growth.
Components of Food
All food that animals and humans eat comes directly or indirectly from plants. All the food we consume have some basic components. Let us take a look at them and their importance.
- Proteins: An average adult requires 45-55 grams of proteins a day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Proteins help us with muscle building and healthy skin and hair. Most proteins human consume are in form of amino acids.
- Carbohydrates: These are the source of energy for animals and humans. Carbohydrates provide us with glucose which is our primary energy source. About 200 grams of carbs is our daily requirement.
- Fats: Although certain types of Fats are bad for your health, good fats are absolutely essential for a healthy lifestyle. Fats help synthesize important Vitamins in your body. The intake of saturated fats should be very limited.
- Vitamins: These are not produced by our body and obtained only from food. However, all types of vitamins (A,C, D etc) are absolutely essential for proper functioning of the human body.
- Minerals: Essential minerals include calcium, iron iodine etc. Deficiency of minerals can cause serious health concerns
- Water: Our bodies are composed of 60-70% water. It is absolutely necessary for all bodily functions, which is why we say it is important to remain hydrated at all times.
Browse more Topics under Nutrition In Plants
The main nutrients required by the plants are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are called mineral nutrients or just minerals. The plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and present in the soil naturally.
When the plants are grown, they absorb the nutrients from the soil due to which the amount of plant nutrients in the soil goes on decreasing. This reduces soil fertility. And when the crop plants are grown in the same fields again and again, then the soil becomes deficient in the plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Due to this, the plant nutrients need to be added from time to time to enrich the soil and restore soil fertility. The plant nutrients are replenished in the soil in the following two ways:
1] Adding Fertilisers and Manures
Fertilisers and manures contain plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium etc. So, when fertilizers and manures are added to the soil in the fields, then the soil gets enriched. The crop plants can then grow well in the soil.
In fact, many times we see the farmers spreading fertilizers and manures in the fields. The gardeners also put fertilizer and manure in the lawns and potted plants. This is done to provide essential nutrients for the growth of plants so that we get healthy plants and increase soil fertility.
The two most common fertilizers which are used to provide plant nutrients in the fields are NPK and Urea. NPK fertilizer provides Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium to the soil in the fields whereas urea provides only nitrogen.
2] Growing Leguminous Crops
Though a lot of nitrogen gas is present in the air the plants cannot use nitrogen in gaseous form. The plants need nitrogen in the form of water-soluble compounds. The plants such as gram, peas, pulses, and beans are called leguminous plants. The leguminous plants have root nodules in them which contain Rhizobium bacteria.
Rhizobium bacteria can convert nitrogen gas of air into nitrogen compounds. So when a leguminous crop is grown in a field, the Rhizobium bacteria present in the roots nodules of leguminous plants convert nitrogen gas of air into nitrogen compounds. Some of these nitrogen compounds are used by the leguminous plants for their own growth.
The remaining nitrogen compounds made by Rhizobium bacteria mix with the soil in the field and increase soil fertility. Thus, the soil in the fields gets enriched with nitrogen compounds in a natural way. The growing of leguminous crops in the fields is of great importance to the farmers.
Solved Question for You
Question: How nutrients are replenished in the soil?
Ans: Nutrients are replenished in soil by different ways:
- By spreading manure or fertilizers that contain nutrients such as nitrogen in the fields.
- By the bacterium Rhizobium that is commonly present in root nodules of a leguminous plant that can take atmospheric nitrogen and convert it into a soluble form like nitrates.