Plant Nutrient Deficiency

Is your crop suffering from nutrient deficiency? Inadequate levels of any of these essential plant nutrients can have major effects on crop growth, health and yield. Click on the links below to find out more about the importance of each of key nutrient and how to identify the causes of symptoms of deficiency.

Nitrogen nutrient deficiency in plants

Nitrogen deficiency in rice, typical light green colour on older, erect leaves (centre) note green plot on left with adequate N

Nitrogen deficiency in rice, typical light green colour on older, erect leaves (centre).  Source: APS Digital Image Collections.


Taken up as both Nitrate, NO3 and Ammonium, NH4+ Nitrogen is required for building the amino acids, genetic material and proteins that influence both structure and function of the entire plant.


Nitrogen regulates leaf and canopy development, influencing photosynthesis, growth rates and aging. Low Nitrogen status results in low leaf area, slow growth and early on-set of senescence. High Nitrogen status can lead to increased biotic stress and delayed maturity.

Nitrogen deficiency in corn, beginning on older leaves and progressing upward.

Nitrogen deficiency in corn, beginning on older leaves & progressing upward. Source: APS Digital Image Collections.


Nitrogen nutrient deficiency is first seen in older leaves, as Nitrogen is pulled from chlorophyll to support new tissue development. Older leaves develop a uniform chlorosis, turning from green to bright yellow. Younger leaves are always darker green.


Nitrogen stress has a major impact on development of the whole plant, leading to poor growth, quality and health.  Soil Nitrogen supply rarely matches plant demand, so supplementary feeding can have a major impact on plant performance. Nitrogen nutrient deficiency is often worse in compacted or alkaline soils, following cold, wet growing conditions and when plants experience high light intensity.


Foliar fertilizer treatment in response to visual symptoms of nitrogen nutrient deficiency can be very effective in maintaining growth and health, particularly during critical stages of development.


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