The Role of Nutrients in Controlling Plant Diseases

The Role of Nutrients in Controlling Plant Diseases

Plant diseases play a major limiting role in agricultural production. The use of classical pesticides for controlling plant diseases brings up concerns about food safety, environmental quality, and pesticide resistance. This is why alternative pest management techniques are needed. Specifically, nutrients can affect the disease tolerance of plants. 

Essential nutrients in our diet help our bodies function properly and stay healthy. Plants follow a similar approach. In addition to needing light and water to survive, they require a balance of essential nutrients to sustain their growth. In plant nutrition, it is important that there is no deficiency in primary or secondary macronutrients, as well as essential micronutrients. Furthermore, these nutrients must be present in the proper amounts.

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Primary & Secondary Macronutrients

Macronutrients are required for plant growth and overall plant health. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are the three primary macronutrients. Secondary macronutrients are also essential for plant health. However, they are consumed in smaller amounts than the primary macronutrients. The secondary macronutrients are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S). The table below illustrates the role of primary and secondary macronutrients in supporting plant growth and preventing diseases and what happens when they are missing. 



Nutrient Deficiency

Nitrogen (N)

  • Promotes cellular multiplication
  • An important component of amino acids, which form the building blocks of plant proteins and enzymes
  • A component of the chlorophyll molecule that allows the plant to capture sunlight energy through photosynthesis, resulting in increased plant growth and grain yield
  • Stunted growth
  • Death of plant tissue
  • Reduced production of chlorophyll, a pigment needed for photosynthesis

Phosphorus (P)

  • Linked to a plant's ability to use and store energy
  • Helps plants grow and develop normally
  • Is important in early root development and plays a key role in promoting proper seed development
  • Unable to produce seeds, flowers, and fruits
  • Stunted growth
  • Imbalance in the storage of carbohydrates

Potassium (K)

  • Associated with the movement of water, nutrients, and carbohydrates in plant tissue
  • Involved with enzyme activation within the plant, which affects protein, starch, and ATP production
  • Important in photosynthesis, in the regulation of plants responses to light through opening and closing of stomata
  • Reduced plant growth
  • Reduced root development
  • Reduced seed and fruit development  

Calcium (Ca)

  • Important for the stability and function of plant membranes
  • Important component of the cell wall structure
  • Stunted plant growth
  • Death of terminal buds and root tips

Magnesium (Mg)

  • Helps activate specific enzyme systems
  • Essential for photosynthesis
  • Used for metabolism of carbohydrates and in cell membrane stabilization
  • Shortage of chlorophyll resulting in stunted plant growth

Sulfur (S)

  • Plays a role in formation of chlorophyll which permits photosynthesis
  • Protein production
  • Activation of enzymes
  • Reduction in plant growth
  • Insufficient chlorophyll resulting in the loss of normal green colour in leaves


Micronutrients also have an effect on plant health and reduce the severity of diseases in plants. They are needed in much smaller quantities than primary and secondary plant nutrients. Micronutrients include Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), Chlorine (Cl) , Iron (Fe), and Silicone (Si). The table below illustrates the function of macronutrients in plant health and preventing disease and what happens when they are missing. 



Nutrient Deficiency

Manganese (Mn)

  • Increases nitrogen metabolism and carbohydrate utilization
  • Key role in plant immune systems
  • Essential for photosynthesis
  • Reduced plant growth
  • Chlorosis which is a condition that causes leaves to produce insufficient chlorophyll

Zinc (Zn)

  • Helps plants produce chlorophyll
  • An important part of several enzymes that are responsible for many metabolic reactions in all plants
  • Reduced carbohydrate, protein, and chlorophyll formation
  • Stunted growth and development

Boron (B)

  • Key role in cell wall formation and stability
  • Essential for cell division
  • Role in the maintenance of structural and functional integrity of biological membranes
  • Inhibition of cell expansion
  • Death of meristem
  • Reduced fertility

Chlorine (Cl)

  • Functions in osmotic and stomatal regulation
  • Plays a role in the evolution of oxygen in photosynthesis
  • Chlorosis: leaves produce insufficient chlorophyll 
  • Necrosis: a form of premature tissue death

Iron (Fe)

  • Plays a role in the synthesis of chlorophyll
  • Essential for maintaining chloroplast structure and function.
  • Decrease in photosynthesis
  • Chlorosis 
  • Poor growth and leaf loss

Silicone (Si)

  • Enhances growth and yield
  • Promotes upright growth
  • Enhance the plant's ability to resist mineral toxicities
  • Affects the development of strong leaves, stems, and roots
  • Affects the formation of a thick silicated epidermal cell layer

Regularly using Enviotin guarantees that plants are provided with the essential nutrients needed to support their growth and health. Enviotin is composed of the proper amounts of primary macronutrients, secondary macronutrients, and micronutrients that will ensure ideal plant growth. 

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