Heat Stress Management via Plant Nutrition

Supplying plant nutrition in a balanced way has numerous benefits. One such a benefit is it will assist the plant in coping with heat (and cold) stress. 

Coping with Higher Temperatures

Mineral nutrition of plants plays a critical role in increasing plant resistance to environmental stresses. The management of plant nutrients is very helpful to develop plant tolerance to temperature stress. Better plant nutrition can effectively alleviate the adverse effects of temperature stress by a number of mechanisms. 

Temperature stress (high temperature) can cause premature leaf senescence, which leads to loss of chlorophyll, increased membrane damage and progressive decline in photosynthetic capacity. High temperature stress directly damages the photosynthetic apparatus and decreases both photosynthetic rate and duration of the assimilate supply. 

Temperature stress (high or low) induces the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as superoxide radical (O2) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The accumulation of ROS damages membrane lipids and can lead to the death of plant cells .Plants possess enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants in order to scavenge ROS.

The function of different nutrients to assist the plant in coping with temperature stress

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen plays a very crucial role in temperature stress tolerance. At higher temperatures, the intensity of light is also very high. So high light intensity, as a function of high temperature, affects mineral nutrients uptake in plants and affect plant growth negatively. Of the mineral nutrients, nitrogen plays a major role in utilization of absorbed light energy and photosynthetic carbon metabolism. An excess of non-utilized light energy can be expected to occur in N-deficient leaves, where it leads to a high risk of photo-oxidative damage. 

Potassium (K)

Among the mineral nutrients, Potassium (K) plays a crucial role in survival of crop plants under environmental stress conditions. K is essential for many physiological processes, such as photosynthesis, translocation of photosynthates into sink organs, maintenance of turgidity and activation of enzymes under stress conditions 

Magnesium (Mg)

Due to temperature stress the re-active oxygen species (ROS) are produced continuously as byproducts of different metabolic pathways. Magnesium improves carbohydrates translocation by increasing phloem export and reduces ROS generation and photo-oxidative damage to chloroplast under temperature stress (high or low) conditions. Maintenance of chloroplast structure by improving Mg nutrition enhances the photosynthetic rate under temperature stress, which in turn improves the productivity

Boron (B)

Boron can increase the antioxidant activities of plants and thereby alleviate ROS damage induced by temperature stress. B application also improves the CHO metabolism and decreases the phenolic compounds in leaves. This in turn reduces the production of ROS species, enhances the photosynthetic rate and reduces the cell damage. This improves the yield by improving the temperature stress.

Manganese (Mn)

Manganese (Mn) can reduce the adverse effects of temperature stress indirectly by enhancing the photosynthetic rate, and nitrogen metabolism in the plant body. Manganese (Mn) is also involved in the activation of many enzymes in plant systems and plays a crucial role in decreasing the production of oxygen free-radicals and increase the anti-oxidative compounds and enzymatic activities under temperature stress thereby may play a role in detoxification of ROS. 

From: Alleviation of temperature stress by nutrient management in crop plants: A review. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258518225_Alleviation_of_temperature_stress_by_nutrient_management_in_crop_plants_A_review.

The COMPO EXPERT product range include all essential nutrients to ensure a balanced nutrient programme for each crop. For a fast response, to ensure nutrient levels are sufficient, a foliar fertilizer is recommended. Nutrimix® Complete and Nutribor® are foliar fertilizers with micronutrients, magnesium and nitrogen. These products can be used to ensure micronutrient levels are sufficient in plants and also to lessen heat stress already visible in plants.

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COMPO EXPERT South Africa

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