Difference Between Macro-Elements & Micro-Elements

Macro and microelements are minerals required in different amounts for plant growth.
••• Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Most plants and animals require certain mineral ions in order to live; these are classified as either macroelements or micro elements. Since animals easily consume these minerals through food, macroelements and microelements usually refer to these elements in conjunction with plants and gardening. With plants, these elements must be dissolved in the soil in order to be consumed.

Macroelements

Elements that a plant needs in large amounts to live are known as macroelements. Most often, access to macroelements is not a problem, but some occur in only limited amounts in the soil. Elements that are most limited in the soil are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, though these are the most prominent ingredients in most plant fertilizers.

Microelements

Mineral elements that are needed by plants in only trace amounts are known as microelements. These elements are as important to a plant’s health as macroelements, but needed in lower quantities. Many of the microelements are enzyme cofactors, which are easily supplied through the soil since only trace amounts are needed.

Symptoms

Mineral deficiencies are serious threats to a plant’s health, and often produce visible symptoms. Most often, the growth of a plant is stunted, which is often attributed to nitrogen deficiencies and phosphorous deficiencies. Chlorosis, or the degradation of chlorophyll, is often caused by magnesium, iron and nitrogen deficiencies. Similarly, necrosis, or dead spots, is often caused by magnesium, potassium or manganese deficiencies.

Elements

The minerals classified as macroelements are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphate, sulphur, potassium, calcium and magnesium. These minerals should be supplied through fertilizers to ensure the maximum health of a plant. On the other hand, the microelements are iron, copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum, zinc and chlorine. These elements are not usually necessary in plant fertilizers, and too much can harm the growth of a plant.

Related Articles

The Use of Phosphorous in Light Bulbs
How to Calculate the Empirical Formula
What Role Do Vitamins Play in Enzyme Activity?
Percentage of Nitrogen in the Air
How Does Carbon Dioxide Affect the Environment?
How to Count Atoms in Chemical Formulas
What Role Do Decomposers Play in a Food Chain?
The Effect of Excess Iron in Plants
Sodium Bicarbonate Secretion in the Body
Why Do Plants & Animals Need Nitrogen?
How to Calculate Kva to Amp
What Effect Does a Limiting Nutrient Have on an Ecosystem?
Environmental Problems Caused by Minerals
The Ecosystem of a Freshwater Pond
How Do Flowers Get Their Food?
Where Was Zinc Discovered?
Plant Pigments Found in Spinach
Environmental Concerns With Sodium Bicarbonate
Limestone Chemical Components