Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are known as macronutrients; sulfur, calcium and magnesium are secondary nutrients; and boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc form the micronutrients. Without the macronutrients, a plant cannot grow and hence they are the most important besides carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which the plant can get from the air and water.
If any macronutrients are missing, it will limit the rate of the plant growth. In nature, macronutrients are available in the soil from the decay of plants that have died. In case of nitrogen, the recycling of nitrogen from dead to living plants is the only source of nitrogen in the soil.
Now that we know what a plant needs to grow and thrive, we will look at how a fertilizer works in aiding the growth of plants. The goal of using a fertilizer is to ensure that the important chemical elements are supplied to the plant so that it can grow. Most fertilizers supply nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to the plant because the other chemical are required in low quantities and they are usually available in most soils.
Although any part of the plant can absorb nutrients, they are generally taken by the roots from the soil. By adding fertilizer to the soil, you are allowing the roots to absorb them as and when required.
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