Sulphur taken up as sulphate ions is a nutrient required in large quantities for satisfactory plant growth. It is not normally added specifically as a fertilizer because the soil reserves are replenished by re-circulated organic matter and a steady supply from winds off the sea in the form of dimethyl sulphide (DMS) that gives the distinctive smell of the seaside. Air pollution has added considerably to the supply reaching the land. Several fertilizers used to add other nutrients are in sulphate form, e.g. ammonium sulphate, superphosphate and potassium sulphate, and as such supply sulphur as well (see Table 21.2). However, as air pollution is reduced and fewer sulphate fertilizers are used, it is becoming necessary for growers in some parts of the world to take positive steps to include sulphur in their fertilizer programme.
Minor nutrients, also known as trace elements or micro-elements, are present in plants in very small quantities, but are just as essential for healthy growth as major elements. However, they can be toxic to plants if too abundant. This means that rectifying deficiencies with soluble salts has to be undertaken carefully.
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