Plant Nutrition

Content and aims

Plant nutrition is the study of the functions and dynamics of mineral nutrients in plants, soils and ecosystems and of plant metabolic processes.

It aims to:

  • to investigate and utilize the function and mode of action of mineral nutrients in plants
  • to improve the growth of plants and the quality of harvested products by targeted mineral nutrient supply
  • to optimize soil fertility
  • to promote the recycling of nutrients in plant production
  • to minimize environmental pollution caused by fertilizers

To achieve the aforementioned goals, plant nutrition is divided into two areas with complementary topics:

1. Nutritional physiology of crops

  • Nutrient acquisition, uptake, transport and distribution in the plant.
  • Assimilation of plant nutrients and source–sink relationships.
  • Physiological functions of plant nutrients.
  • Molecular biology and biochemistry of plant nutrition.
  • Plant nutritional disorders.
  • Nutrient efficiency.
  • Ecophysiology (stress tolerance).

2. Nutrient balance and fertilization

  • Nutrient turnover in soils and growing media.
  • Soil fertility.
  • Rhizosphere (root–soil interactions).
  • Symbioses and associations of the plant.
  • Fertilizer requirement determination.
  • Mineral and organic fertilizers.
  • Fertilization technology.
  • Substance balance and substance budgets on different scale levels.
  • Pollutant transfer soil–plant.

Relationships to other disciplines

Plant nutrition represents a core area of crop science. It is closely intertwined and works in an interdisciplinary way with other disciplines of crop science (e.g., plant production, plant breeding, phytomedicine) as well as other disciplines of agricultural and nutritional sciences (e.g., soil science, agricultural engineering, animal nutrition and human nutrition), botany (e.g., plant physiology, systematics, morphology), and basic life sciences (e.g., biochemistry, molecular biology, bioinformatics).
This integration of different disciplines is also reflected by the fact that members of the DGP are active in a number of other societies.


Image database

The image database “Plant Nutrition”, located at the Chair of Plant Nutrition at Kiel University, contains more than 2000 images together with specification on all major areas of plant nutrition. The images mostly originate from experimental work of different research groups, which often were formative for the development of the scientific field. The images can and may be downloaded free of charge and used for lectures, etc. The name of the author of the image is given under each image. By downloading an image, the user of the database agrees to use this image only with the name of the image author.

Please follow this Link to access the database.