Plants require a balanced diet of essential nutrients for proper growth and development, and nitrogen is one of the most important elements they require. Nitrogen is involved in many biological processes including photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and cell division. Unfortunately, plants can suffer from N deficiency, which negatively affects their growth and development. In this article, I will explore the causes and solutions of nitrogen deficiency in plants.
Understanding Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants
- Nitrogen deficiency in plant leaves is manifested by the yellowing of leaves and stunted growth.
- Young leaves are usually the first to show symptoms, requiring the most nitrogen.
- As the deficiency progresses, yellowing spreads to older leaves, which eventually turn brown and die.
- Nitrogen-deficient plants also have smaller, less robust root systems and may be more susceptible to disease and pest attack.
Causes Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants
There are several reasons why plants suffer from N deficiency, including:
Soil conditions: Nitrogen is readily available in the soil, but the form it takes can affect its availability to plants. Soils with high pH levels can make nitrogen less accessible, while acidic soils release nitrogen from organic matter and make it available to plants.
Overwatering: Overwatering causes nitrogen loss through leaching, especially in sandy soils.
Poor fertilizer management: Fertilizers contain insufficient levels of nitrogen, or the nitrogen may not be in a form that is readily available to plants.
Competition from weeds: When weeds are present, plants compete with them for nitrogen, which cannot take up the whole element, resulting in a deficiency.
Pests and Diseases: Pests and diseases reduce the ability of plants to absorb nitrogen, resulting in deficiencies.
Solving Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants
There are several solutions to N-deficiency in plants, 5 of which are discussed in order of importance…
Soil Test: The first step in correcting nitrogen deficiency is to test the soil to determine its nutrient content. This will help determine the best course of action to correct the defect.
Adjusting soil pH: Adjusting soil pH can make nitrogen more accessible to plants. This can be done by adding lime to raise the pH or reducing sulfur.
Proper Fertilization: Providing plants with the right amount of fertilizer can help ensure they get the nitrogen they need. Slow-release fertilizers are a good option, as they release nitrogen slowly over time.
Crop rotation: Crop rotation helps reduce competition for nitrogen, while also helping to build soil fertility.
Pest and disease management: Pest and disease control can help improve plants’ ability to absorb nitrogen.
Nitrogen deficiency in plants can have significant effects on growth and development. By understanding the causes and implementing solutions, gardeners and farmers can easily help their plants thrive. Adjusting soil pH, applying proper fertilizers, practicing crop rotation, or controlling pests and diseases, are many strategies that can help correct nitrogen deficiency and promote healthy plant growth.
Sources of references:
National Gardening Association. “Understanding Plant Nutrient Deficiencies.” National Gardening Association, https://www.garden.org/nutrient-deficiency-chart/.
- Purdue University Extension. “Plant Nutrient Deficiencies.” Purdue University, https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-25/E-25.pdf.
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Plant Nutrient Deficiencies.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac, https://www.almanac.com/content/plant-nutrient-deficiencies.
University of Minnesota Extension. “Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants.” University of Minnesota, https://extension.umn.edu/plant-nutrients/nitrogen-deficiency-plants.
I am Gaushoul Agam,
𝐂𝐨-𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫 & 𝐂𝐄𝐎,
As an experienced SA Horticulture Officer in the Horticulture Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, I am dedicated to advancing agriculture and farming.
With a mission to address global food safety challenges amid a growing population, diminishing arable land, and the impacts of climate change on agriculture, I founded ToAgriculture. Through this platform, I empower readers with modern agricultural techniques, effective pest and disease control, and sustainable agricultural management, leading to a more secure and prosperous future in agriculture.
With over four years of expertise in field crops and seven years in horticulture crops, my knowledge spans fruit and vegetable farming techniques, adept pest-disease management, proficient irrigation strategies, and the art of grafting. Join me on this journey of discovery as I share insights and experiences to guide readers toward a sustainable future.