Description of course

In the agricultural sciences, soil fertility and plant nutrition played an important role during the twentieth century in increasing crop yields. In the twenty-first century, the importance of this field is expected to increase due to limited natural resources (land and water), the need for more sustainable agricultural systems, and concern about environmental pollution.


The objective of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of soil fertility, plant nutrition and nutrient management to develop an understanding of the:

  1. Mineral nutrients: Determinations, concentrations, behaviors, forms, functions and requirements in plants and their effect on plant growth.
  2. Diagnosis of nutrient status in plants (Symptoms of deficiency and excess).
  3. Soil fertility and productivity, role of soil in supplying nutrients to as per plant demand.
  4. Beneficial nutrient elements: their presence in plants, beneficial effects and how they are toxic to animals and human health.
  5. Identification of soil fertility (Soil Analysis) by new and innovative approaches.
  6. Plant nutrients availability, replenishment and retention as well as use and behavior of fertilizer in soil are discussed. The students should be able to diagnose nutrient deficiency and toxicity symptoms and requirement of fertilizers for optimum plant growth.

Intended learning outcomes:

After completion of this course, students will be able to diagnose the deficiency and toxicity symptoms of various macro and micro nutrients exerted in the field. Students will be handy in conducting soil and plant sampling and analysis in the laboratory

Course Contents

1. Crop growth, factors affecting and growth expressions

2. Essential plant nutrients: functions, deficiency and toxicity

3. Movement of nutrients to roots, acquisition and uptake

4. Nitrogengains and losses in soil

5. Nitrogen fertilizers and their fate in soil

6. Phosphorus forms and P-fertilizers behavior in soil

7. Potassium forms, amount and exchange equilibrium in soil

8. Calcium, magnesium and sulfur forms and amount in soil

9. Crop responses; factor affecting and residual effects

10. Integrated plant nutrient management

11. Nutrients behavior in submerged soil

12. Nutrient role in human and plant health

13. Possible new essential elements (Co, Na, Si, Se, Ni, Li and Cs)


1. Fertilizers identification and composition

2. Fertilizer requirement calculation

3. Fertilizer analyses (urea, CAN, DAP and SOP)

4. Determination of available P and K in soi

l 5. Plant analysis for N, P and K

6. Field visits for identification of nutrients deficiency and toxicity symptoms

7. Visit to fertilizer factories, soil fertility institutes and demonstration trials

Books Recommended

1. Ahmad, N. and M. Rashid. 2003. Fertilizer and Their Use in Pakistan: An Extension Guide. Planning Commission, National Fertilizer Development Centre, Islamabad, Pakistan.

2. Elsworth, L. and W.O. Relay (eds.). 2009. Fertilizers: Properties, Applications and Effects. Nova Science. Publ. Inc., NY, USA.

3. Havlin, J.L., S.L.Tisdale, W.L. Nelson and J.D. Beaton. 2013. Soil Fertility and Fertilizers: An Introduction to Nutrient Management. 8th ed. Pearson Education, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA.

4. Mengel, K. and E.A. Kirkby. 2001. Principles of Plant Nutrition. 5thEd. International Potash Inst., Bern, Switzerland.

5. Russell, E.J. 2011. The Fertility of the Soil. 1st Ed. Cambridge Univ. Press, UK.

Assessment criteria

Sessional: 08 (project, presentation, participation)

Project: 04

Presentation: 02

Participation: 02

Mid exam: 12

Final exam: 20

Practical exam: 20

Course Material