Nutrients and beneficial elements

Plant nutrients are essential for plant growth and development. According to current scientific knowledge, there are 14 essential plant nutrients, which are divided into macro- and micronutrients. Plants furthermore absorb other elements, which scientists call beneficial elements. Here is information on these groups and the important functions of potassium, magnesium, boron, manganese & Co. 


High nutrition demand

Macronutrients are present in plant tissues in comparatively high concentrations and the requirement for healthy growth corresponds to several kg of plant nutrient/ha. There are six macronutrients: potassium, magnesium, sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. 


Small amount with great effect

Micronutrients occur in plant tissue in comparatively low concentrations. The plant requirement is several grams of plant nutrient per hectare. They are also referred to as trace elements. Today, eight micronutrients are known: boron, chlorine, iron, copper, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, and zinc. Here is information on the functions of the most relevant micronutrients: 

Beneficial Elements

Helpful, but replaceable

Unlike macro- and micronutrients, beneficial elements are not essential for plant growth and development. They can perform important functions in yield, quality, or stress tolerance, but can be replaced by other elements. Nevertheless, they often play an important and essential role in humans and animals living on plants. Examples are sodium, selenium, or silicon. 

Nutrients and beneficial elements

When is a nutrient essential?

Plant nutrients - unlike beneficial elements - are essential for plant growth and development. Macro- and micronutrients meet the criteria applying to them: 

  • If plant nutrients are not available in sufficient quantities, this leads to a specific deficiency symptom.
  • Each plant nutrient has at least one function within the plant that has been scientifically proven and for which it cannot be replaced by any other element.
  • If a plant nutrient is completely lacking, growth comes to a standstill and the plant cannot complete its life cycle.

According to these criteria, there are 14 essential plant nutrients according to current scientific knowledge. In addition, plants take up other elements that are not essential for their growth and development and do not meet the three criteria for essential plant nutrients mentioned above. These substances are referred to as "benefical elements".