Soil Nutrient Cycles—What do the Plants Eat?
The focus of today’s lesson was on the nutrients that plants require for healthy growth. These nutrients are absorbed through the plant’s roots, from the surrounding soil. We had a great discussion of how the nutrients pass from the soil to plants and then to animals, then back into the soil in ongoing processes called biogeochemical or nutrient cycles.
The three main nutrients required by plants are nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Nitrogen deficiency results in stunted plant growth. Potassium is known to help reduce water loss, which makes a plant more resistant to drought. Phosphorous is an important part of DNA and the active component of ATP, the primary means by which cells temporarily store and transport energy. For a plant to succeed, it needs these 3 nutrients, plus others in smaller amounts.
Another important factor of whether soil is healthy for plants is the pH rating of the soil, the measure of its acidity or alkalinity. Students had the opportunity to perform their own soil testing and were able to investigate the pH levels and nutrient levels of several soil types from various areas.