The key difference between macronutrients and micronutrients is that the macronutrients are the elements plants need in high amounts while micronutrients are the elements plants need in minute amounts.
Plants cannot complete its life cycle in the absence of elements called essential elements. Essential elements can be classified into two basic categories such as mineral elements and non-mineral elements. Non-mineral elements are Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen. On the other hand, there are 16 other essential mineral elements. Essential mineral elements can be again categorized as macronutrients and macronutrients according to the amount of these elements in plant tissue. These essential elements have several types of roles, including forming carbon compounds, energy storage reactions, as cofactors for enzymes, and electron transferring. Essential elements can be mobile or immobile. Elements like N, P, and K can move from leaf to leaf. Therefore, if there is a deficiency in N, P, K, matured leaves show the symptoms, since elements are recycled from older leaves to younger leaves. If elements are immobile, younger leaves show the symptom of deficiency.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Macronutrients
3. What are Micronutrients
4. Similarities Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients
5. Side by Side Comparison – Macronutrients vs Micronutrients in Tabular Form
What are Macronutrients?
Macronutrients are the elements needed in high amounts for the growth of plants. Hence, these elements are present in high amounts in plants. There are eight macronutrients as C, H, O, K, N, S, P, Ca, and Mg. Plants find macronutrients C, H and O from carbohydrate, which is the photosynthetic product. Therefore, roots do not absorb macronutrients C, H, and, O. Moreover, N, P, and K are the primary nutrients. A plant utilizes primary nutrients in high amounts than secondary nutrients and micronutrients. This means plants utilize secondary nutrients in lower amounts than primary nutrients. Ca, Mg, and S are several secondary nutrients. Except for C, H, O, plants absorb other macronutrients in ionic form from the soil by plant roots.
The absence of macronutrients results in a nutrient deficiency in plants, which causes disruption of plant metabolism and function. To overcome the deficiency of primary and secondary nutrients, they should be added to the soil as synthetic chemical fertilizers.
What are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients are the elements needed in low amounts than macronutrient for plant growth. Hence, these elements are available in lower amounts than macronutrients in plants. Examples of micronutrients are Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, Mo, B, Cl, and Ni.
Plant roots absorb micronutrients from the soil solution as ions, similar to macronutrients. The absence of micronutrients also causa es nutrient deficiency in plants, resulting in the disruption of plant metabolism and function.
What are the Similarities Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients?
- Plants need both macronutrients and micronutrients for plant growth and development.
- Plant roots absorb most of them from the soil.
What is the Difference Between Macronutrients and Micronutrients?
Plants need nutrients for their growth and developments. They are two types namely macronutrients and micronutrients. Plants need greater quantities of macronutrients while plants need minute quantities of micronutrients. Thus, this is the key difference between macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include N, K, Ca, Mg, P, and S, while micronutrients include Cl, Fe, B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Mo, and Ni. So, this is a significant difference between macronutrients and micronutrients.
Moreover, all micronutrients are minerals while macronutrients can be minerals or non-minerals. Therefore, this is also a significant difference between macronutrients and micronutrients. Furthermore, roots absorb all micronutrients from the soil while it is not possible to absorb some macronutrients from the soil. Hence, we can consider this also as a difference between macronutrients and micronutrients.
The below infographic provides a comparative analysis of the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients.
Summary – Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
Macronutrients are the nutrients required in greater quantities while micronutrients are the nutrients required in smaller quantities for plants. N, K, Ca, Mg, P, and S are macronutrients while Cl, Fe, B, Mn, Zn, Cu, Mo, and Ni are micronutrients. Not all macronutrients are absorbed by roots while all micronutrients are absorbed from the soil by the roots. Macronutrients play a major role in the formation of carbon compounds and storage of energy while micronutrients act as cofactors for enzymes and help in electron transfer. Thus, this is a summary of the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients.
1. “Plant Nutrition.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Feb. 2019, Available here.
1. “Sarus crane (Grus antigone) in gondia district, maharashtra JEG3007” By PJeganathan – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “025 Manganese – Periodic Table of Elements” By Science Activism (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr