Nutrient management






Essential nutrients in rice production







Understand that the rice plant needs nutrients to grow







Before you start developing a nutrient management strategy, you need to understand about mineral nutrition in rice production. Of particular importance are the essential nutrients and their functions in rice growth and development.







When is a nutrient an essential element?


There are 2 ways to see whether a specific element is essential to the growth and development of a plant:


  1. if plants are grown with all nutrients except 1 specific element, and they show abnormality compared with plants grown that got ALL the nutrients; and

  2. if the specific element in question is added to the nutrients for the abnormal plants and the symptoms of abnormality disappear, or are reduced in severity.


What are the essential elements for rice?


There are 16 elements that are essential for a rice plant to grow and develop properly. These elements can be grouped into macro-elements and micro-elements. Macro-elements are needed in bigger quantity than micro-elements.


The essential elements for rice

The macro-elements:


needed by plants in large amounts, often more than 0.1% of plant’s dry weight.

  • carbon

  • hydrogen

  • oxygen

  • nitrogen

  • phosphorus

  • potassium

  • calcium

  • magnesium

  • sulfur




The micro-elements:


needed by plants in lesser quantities, often in trace amounts.

  • iron

  • manganese

  • copper

  • zinc

  • molybdenum

  • boron

  • chlorine


(Silicon is a ‘beneficial’ nutrient for rice but its physiological functions are not yet clear.)




What do these essential elements do in the plant?


Functions, deficiency, and toxicity

Let's see in which way these elements help the plant's growth or development. And what are the symptoms when the plant lacks this element?






Click on an icon to open a fact sheet with more information about:











Go online for more information


For more information on nutrient deficiency symptoms and how to solve nutrient problems, go to Rice doctor on the Rice Knowledge Bank:


Next lesson


Next, we will explain why and how to use organic materials and manures in rice nutrient management.