Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants | Free Biology Notes

Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants

In this article we will discuss about nitrogen deficiency in plants. After reading this essay you will learn about: importance of nitrogen for plant, causes of nitrogen deficiency in plants and symptoms of nitrogen deficiency in plants

  • Nitrogen deficiency in plants is a situation that occurs when there is insufficient nitrogen available for the plant, resulting in growth retardation, reduced leaf size, and leaf discoloration.
  • Nitrogen is a necessary macronutrient for plants, as it is required for many physiological processes like photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and cell division.
  • A absence of nitrogen in the soil may have a negative impact on plant development and overall health, so horticulturists and farmers must be aware of the symptoms of nitrogen deficiency.

Importance of Nitrogen for Plant

  • Nitrogen is a constituent of proteins, nucleic acids, as well as chlorophyll, it is essential for plant growth and development.
  • It helps plants in producing new cells, strengthening stems, and increasing yield.
  • Nitrogen is frequently a limiting factor in growing plants, and a lack of nitrogen can lead in growth retardation, leaf yellowing, and decreased crop yield.
  • Many plants obtain nitrogen from the soil via their roots, whereas others could fix nitrogen from the atmosphere using nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Causes of Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants

Nitrogen deficit in plants could be caused by a variety of factors, including:

    • Insufficient nitrogen levels in the soil
    • Poor soil, such as a lack of organic matter or poor drainage
    • Very high or too low a pH in the soil
    • Excessive nitrogen leaching caused by heavy rainfall or overwatering
    • Nitrogen competition from weed growth or other plants starting to grow near the area
    • Insufficient or false fertilisation techniques
    • Damage caused by pests or diseases that inhibits the plant’s capacity to absorb nitrogen
    • Environmental stressors such as water stress, heat, or cold can impair a plant’s capacity to absorb and use nitrogen.

Symptoms of Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants

Nitrogen deficiency symptoms in crops can differ depending on the extent of the insufficiency and the species of plants. However, the following are a few common symptoms of nitrogen deficiency in plants:

  • Plants remain small and fail to survive and flourish due to stunted growth.
  • Pale or yellowish green leaves, early stages with the oldest. In severe cases, the leaf may completely turn yellow and die.
  • Decreased leaf size and thickness, resulting in leaves that appear thin, spindly, and unhealthy.
  • Flowering or fruiting is delayed or reduced because nitrogen is required for the growth of reproductive structures.
  • Optimum plant production or crop quality is reduced, resulting in lower crop yields and inferior produce.
  • Nitrogen-deficient plants are relatively weak and more vulnerable to stressors, they are more susceptible to pest and disease damage.
  • In trees and shrubs, the young leaves drop or abscission can decrease and ultimately kill the plant.


To prevent further damage, if highly doubt nitrogen deficiency in plants, it is essential to determine and address the underlying cause, as well as provide appropriate fertilisers.

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