The chemical minerals which plants require in small amounts are called trace elements or minerals, or micro-nutrients. In all, there are 96 elements known to be essential for plants to grow and reproduce. The major trace elements are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur, calcium, magnesium, boron, manganese, iron, copper, molybdenum, zinc and chlorine. These chemical elements are necessary only in small amounts.
While it is important that the micro-nutrients be present and available in the soil, they must not be overabundant. Too much will mean toxic conditions developing in plants, and sickness in animals and humans. A soil which is rich in organic matter will supply plants with adequate amounts of most trace elements. Trace elements can also be supplied by seaweed fertiliser or sea minerals. Fresh seaweed can be applied as a mulch, added to the compost heap, or simply forked into the soil however, it must be washed to remove the salt.
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