The 3 Major Elements Plants Need
Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are the three major elements plants need to grow successfully.
Nitrogen (N) is part of the chlorophyll molecule, which give plants their green colour and is an essential component of plant proteins. Plants use nitrogen in the form of nitrates, which is nitrogen mixed with oxygen. Nitrogen is involved in creating food for the plant through photosynthesis. Therefore, without nitrates, photosynthesis cannot occur, and the plant will die from a lack of food.
In traditional farming, plants absorb nitrates from the soil but in aquaponics, nitrate (NO3-) is created through the nitrogen cycle and can easily be absorbed by the plants.
Phosphorus (P) is essential for normal plant growth and maturity. Phosphorus has an important role in photosynthesis, respiration, energy storage, cell division, energy transfer and cell enlargement.
Potassium (K) is required for proper growth and reproduction. It is often considered second only to nitrogen when it comes to nutrients needed by the plant. The amount of potassium can determine the plant shape, size, colour and taste. In photosynthesis, potassium regulates the opening and closing of stomata which regulates CO2 uptake. It triggers the activation of enzymes and is essential for the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is an important energy source for many chemical processes in the plant tissue. Potassium also regulates the water in plants (osmoregulation) including uptake through the roots and loss through the stomata. Plants absorb Potassium in its ionic form, K+.