5. Wheat Fertility Management

Water and Nutrient Management in the Great Plains

By Dale Leikam

Seventeen nutrients are recognized as required for normal growth and development of wheat and other crops. Three of these essential nutrients: carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are obtained by plants from the air or water. The remaining 14 essential nutrients generally come from the soil. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are classified as macronutrients. Sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg), and calcium (Ca) are typically classified as secondary nutrients, while iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), and nickel (Ni) are referred to as micronutrients. The availability and plant uptake of all nutrients are influenced by many soil and environmental conditions; such as soil moisture, temperature, pH, density, and other chemical and physical properties of soil. Nutrients that most commonly limit wheat growth and development in the Great Plains are nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, chloride, and iron. While there is often ongoing discussion about possible deficiencies of copper, zinc, molybdenum, and manganese of wheat grown in the Great Plains, there are little or no research data indicating that these deficiencies commonly occur. Likewise, potassium deficiencies for wheat in the Great Plains are relatively rare.