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Factors influencing availability of nutrients - SS2 Agriculture Lesson Note

The availability of nutrients in soil is crucial for plant growth, and several factors can influence it. 

Soil pH:

Soil pH measures how acidic or alkaline the soil is.

Different plants thrive in different pH ranges.

Extreme pH levels can limit nutrient availability.

For example, acidic soils may lock up essential nutrients like calcium, while alkaline soils can make nutrients like iron less available.


Excess of Other Nutrients:

Excessive levels of one nutrient can affect the uptake of others.

High levels of, say, phosphorus can interfere with the absorption of iron or zinc.

Balance is important for nutrient availability.



Leaching is the process where water carries away nutrients from the soil.

Excessive rainfall or over-irrigation can cause leaching.

This can deplete nutrients from the root zone, making them unavailable to plants.


Crop Removal:

When crops are harvested, they take nutrients with them.

If these nutrients aren't replenished through fertilization, soil nutrient levels can decrease over time.



Certain nutrients, like sulfur, can become less available when exposed to oxygen.

Soil aeration and drainage affect how much oxygen is present in the soil.

In poorly aerated soils, nutrients may become less accessible.


Soil Texture:

Soil texture (sand, silt, clay) impacts nutrient availability.

Clay soils hold nutrients better but can become compacted.

Sandy soils drain quickly, potentially washing away nutrients.


Microbial Activity:

Soil microbes play a role in nutrient cycling.

Beneficial microbes break down organic matter, releasing nutrients.

Harmful microbes can immobilize nutrients or cause nutrient loss.


Organic Matter:

Organic matter in soil provides a source of nutrients over time.

Decomposition of organic material enriches the soil with nutrients.


Temperature and Moisture:

Nutrient availability can be influenced by temperature and moisture levels.

Cold or waterlogged soils can slow nutrient release and uptake.


In summary, the availability of nutrients in soil is a complex interplay of various factors, including pH, nutrient balance, leaching, crop management, oxidation, soil texture, microbial activity, organic matter, and environmental conditions. Managing these factors is essential for maintaining fertile soils and promoting healthy plant growth.


Recommended: Questions and Answers on Factors influencing availability of nutrients for SS2 Agriculture
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