PLANT GROWTH FACTORS

Farmers are agribusiness minded and for that matter expect a bumper harvest of fresh and healthy crops at the end of the season . In order to achieve this objective , there is the need to ensure the plants grow very well . Four primary factors affect plant growth;  light, water, temperature and nutrients. These four elements affect the plant’s growth hormones, making the plant grow more quickly or more slowly. Changing any of the four can cause the plant stress which  changes growth, or improves growth. It is important to learn as much as you can about each of the four factors and your own plant or garden’s unique needs to maximize plant growth factors for a healthy farm or garden.

  • Light

Light is a climatic factor that is essential in the production of chlorophyll and in photosynthesis , the process by which plants manufacture food in the form of sugar (carbohydrate) and subsequently into other organic compounds. Through photosynthesis, the electromagnetic energy from the sun is converted to chemical energy which sustains almost all forms of life.

Plants may have developed in areas or  locations under the canopies of great rain forest trees or on the slopes of a harsh mountainous areas  . Because of this, plants are adapted to different types of light, and some cannot adapt easily to new conditions. There is the need to understand the type of light your plants require and provide it for them. Light also varies in intensity from season to season.

Three properties of this climatic factor that affect plant growth and development are light quality , light intensity and day length .Light quality refers to the specific wavelengths of light; light intensity is the degree of brightness that a plant receives; and day length is the duration of the day with respect to the night period.

  • Water

Plants need water to survive. Humans are made up of approximately 70 percent water, but plants are closer to 90 percent water, and without water, plants become stressed and die.  Water nourishes the plant and hydrates it. Water in the soil breaks down and dissolves minerals and critical elements in the soil. As the plant absorbs water through its roots, it also transport nutrients into its cells.

Water and humidity in the air can encourage plant growth, but too much water can kill plants. It’s important to provide your plants with the right amount of water for their needs.

  • Temperature

Plants react to temperature by speeding up or slowing down all of their life processes. Warmth encourages germination and growth. Warmer temperatures actually trigger chemical reactions inside the plant’s cells, which speed up transpiration, respiration, and photosynthesis. Plants grow more quickly during warm periods and slow down or even become dormant during cool or colder periods.

  • Nutrients

Plants require certain basic nutrients for growth and maintenance. There are 17 nutrients which plants need to survive. Three of these nutrients are taken from the air and from water: hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. They must be able to find the remaining 14 nutrients in the soil. If any of the nutrients is lacking, it can slow plant growth or cause stunted growth.

Soil nutrients are divided into two categories, macronutrients and micronutrients. Plants need more of the macronutrients than micronutrients. Macronutrients include nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and phosphorus. Micronutrients include iron, copper, and many other elements.

One problem farmers often face is an imbalance among the soil nutrients. The macro and micronutrients listed above must all be available to the plant since some help the plant absorb others. The best way to ensure healthy soil that offers all 17 nutrients is through the use of natural compost and manure added to the garden soil yearly, which replenish the missing nutrients and offer new nutrients to the plants.

Fertilizers are not  the same thing as nutrients. Most fertilizers include only nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and do not include the other trace macro and micronutrients that plants need.

Many plant diseases are caused by missing macro or micronutrients. Blossom end rot on tomatoes, for instance, is thought to be caused by lack of calcium in the soil which makes plants susceptible to virus and bacteria. Plants that lack critical nutritive elements suffer from malnutrition, which affects their growth.

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