Understanding the elemental composition of plants reveals that 99% of a plant’s mass comes from water, carbon, and nitrogen. These elements are primarily derived from the atmosphere. This highlights the importance given to aggregation, photosynthesis, and microbial nitrogen-fixation in biologically driven agriculture. 

The remaining 1% of the plant’s mass is comprised of other essential (P, K, S, Ca, Mg, Fe, B, Mn, Si, Na, Cu, Cl,  Zn, Mo,  Ni, )  and beneficial elements, which are usually obtained from the soil.

So apart from water, carbon and nitrogen, plants need at least 15 essential elements for proper growth and reproduction. Additionally, other elements not classified as essential will still benefit plants, even in extremely small amounts.

All of these soil based nutrients perform a plethora of functions within the plant, some as in the case of what are clasified as macronutrients (P, K, S, Ca, Mg) cannot be performed by any other element of the periodic table.

While the law of minimums applies to micronutrients,  even if the least used nutrient is not present, it won’t do any good to have all the others. So these elements used in trace amounts are as essential as the macronutrients.

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