Minerals are naturally occurring substances which are necessary for development, growth and maintenance. Minerals are chemical structures which at room temperature are stable and solid in form.
For plants, minerals are a form of nutrients which are found within the soil and need to be taken up by the plant`s roots. These minerals need to be absorbed by water first and then can be acquired by the roots. Minerals are sub-divided into two groups:
- Macronutrients: There are primary and secondary macronutrients present in the soil. Primary nutrients tend to be lacking first from the soil because for growth and survival, plants depend on large amounts of these nutrients. Plants do not run out of secondary nutrients as quickly. Some primary nutrients are nitrogen (N) and potassium (K). Sulfur (S) and calcium (Ca) are two examples of secondary nutrients.
- Micronutrients: These are nutrients which plants require, but only in small amounts. Trace elements and minor nutrients are classifications sometimes used for these types of minerals. Micronutrients can be recycled through organic matter such as grass clippings and leaves. Some examples of micronutrients are copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), iron (Fe) and boron (B).
Minerals are essential for plant growth and often in agriculture fertilizers are applied to soils in order to supply plants with these elements. Through chemical reactions soil organisms and bacteria can breakdown larger compounds into smaller components so that plants can be supplied with these nutrients.