Role Of Nutrients


For curriculum based resources, community gardens, lesson plans and information please go to:
Canada Nutrients for Life
USA Nutrients for Life

Nutrients play a unique role in replenishing our soils and sustaining the world’s growing need for food, fiber and fuel.

Why do we need to continually replenish nutrient levels?

As crops grow, they remove nutrients from the soil. If these nutrients are not replaced, soil quality and productivity decline. While this is a gradual process, it is the reason many ear found ways to sustain crop production by adding nutrients back to the soil through the addition of animal wastes.

The world found a way to economically provide the nitrogen needed to sustain our soils and growing population when Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch perfected a method in the early twentieth century for producing ammonia from hydrogen and air. This, in part, fueled the green revolution – helping farmers to increase production from 692 million tonnes of grain in 1950 to 1.9 billion tonnes of grain in 1992, on essentially the same land base.

However, soil degradation due to nutrient removal still occurs today. In impoverished and war-torn areas of the world, farmers are not able to replace nutrients removed by crops. This has led to desertification and the destruction of rainforests.

Even in developed countries, nutrient replacement has lagged removal in some areas. By working with growers, industry associations, government, and researchers, Nutrien strives to ensure nutrients are applied in amounts that sustainably replenish soils.

Sustaining World Food and Energy Needs

As society strives to achieve energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, governments are increasingly looking to agriculture to supply greater amounts of bio-fuel. This is occurring at a time when world food grain stocks are at an all-time low and population growth is continuing to increase. As well, a growing global middle class is increasingly demanding more protein-rich foods, requiring grains to be fed to animals. An essential component in the production of this protein, is nitrogen.

Experts estimate that commercial fertilizer is responsible for the basic food needs of at least 40 percent of the world’s population. While this is a tremendous achievement we know more must be done, as all too many people do not have enough food to live, let alone achieve a higher standard of living.

Nutrien is proud to be part of an industry that provides these life-sustaining resources and maintain the quality of one of the world’s most precious resources – our soil.

Did you know?



What are Nutrients?

Nutrients are like vitamins for plants. They help the plants make food from sunlight, protect them from insects and diseases and keep them strong during cold nights and days.

Crop Nutrition & Nutrient Removal

Plants require 17 nutrients to grow. When plants are harvested, different crops will take different amounts of nutrients from the soil.
Learn more about essential nutrients and calculate the nutrients removed from soil by specific crops here:
The Mosaic Company: Nutrient Knowledge