Item 1, Topic 1
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Visual Indicators of Soil Nutrient Deficiencies

Dan Hickey April 3, 2020

Nutrient deficiencies in plants can be identified by a number of visual factors:-

  1. Poor pasture growth
  2. Discolouration of leaves including yellowing, reddening or mottling of leaves.
  3. Necrosis (dying off) of leaves and stems. This can be on the margins of the leaves (marginal necrosis) or across the whole leaf.
  4. Chlorosis – yellowing of parts of the leaves. This can be inter-veinal (between veins) or intra-veinal (within veins)
  5. Curling of leaves

The indicators give us an idea of which nutrient may be deficient in the pasture. Some of these nutrients are able to be moved around in the plant to support new growth so the older leaves show the symptoms first. These are called phloem mobile elements. Examples of these are:

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

Some nutrients can’t be moved around the plant and visual signs show up on the newest growth first.