Most schoolchildren will have performed simple experiments to discover the conditions necessary for plants to grow. At the time, their teachers would also have introduced them to the process known as photosynthesis. To synthesise glucose essential for energy, they draw water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In the presence of the green pigment chlorophyll, the two compounds combine to form the simple sugar. However, photosynthesis alone cannot sustain plant nutrition. The services of several other chemical agents are also essential for healthy growth and reproduction.
The precise nutritional requirements vary according to the species concerned, the environment in which it is growing and the particular stage in its development. For example, the needs during germination can differ significantly from those necessary to produce fruit. For a farm to be sustainable, it must produce a sufficiently large and healthy crop and be able to do so profitably. To achieve these goals, commercial growers frequently call upon a specialist to provide professional plant nutrition services.
Scientists have identified around 18 chemical elements and compounds that are essential for the healthy development of plants. However, their presence of such substances in the growing environment does not guarantee that they can be of benefit. If they are to be effective, these nutrients must be in a form that can be utilised by the maize, sunflowers or any other crop that might need help to achieve healthy growth.
According to the quantities required, it is common practice for plant nutrition services to divide nutrients into three groups. Oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, potassium and phosphorus are those most needed and form the primary group. The secondary group consists of sulphur, calcium and magnesium, all essential in more moderate quantities. The third group contains micronutrients, of which only tiny amounts are essential. It includes the non-metallic elements chlorine and boron plus the metals copper, zinc, iron, manganese and molybdenum.
A crop’s nutritional needs vary at different stages in its growth cycle. Providing effective plant nutrition services requires farm visits to assess the current growing conditions and identify any nutritional shortfalls. The next step is to prepare mixtures of appropriate essential nutrients in the proportions necessary to optimize development at the present stage. Intervention requires a diverse range of products, each with its particular benefits. For example, it should include preparations to assist with germination, promote vigorous root growth, or improve seed production.
As experts in providing plant nutrition services, Kynoch calls upon more than a century of experience and employs cutting-edge technology to make informed decisions that keep South Africa’s crops healthy and make its farms more productive.