when J. B. van Halmont(1644) conducted the first quantitative experiment to know about the mysteryof plant growth.
Planted a 5 pound willow (family Salicaceae, dicotyledenoustrees and shrubs including poplar) plantin an earthenware pot containing 200 lbs. of dry soil, and allowed it to grow for 5 years addingnothing but rain or distilled water.
At the end he found that
The willow tree had gained 169 pounds and about 3 ounces from the same quantity of soil andconcluded that 164 pounds of wood, bark, and roots from water alone.
The concept of humus was given by
Francis Home, 1775 for the nourishment of plants.
Theodore de Saussure, a Frenchman (1767-1845) was the first to report the ash composition ofvarious plant species, and thus laid down the essentiality of plant nutrients.
During 1803-1873, a frenchmanJean-BaptisteBoussignault, father of field plot experimentscalculated the quantities of various elements taken up from the soil by growing plants.
Justus von Liebig, (German organic chemist)
father of agricultural chemistry,
Presented in 1840,
His historic book on “organic chemistry and its applications to Agriculture and physiology”.
His work presented the ‘humus’story
which resulted in wide acceptance of the “mineral theory of fertilisers”and developed the “lawof minimum”
which states that growth of plants is limited by the plant nutrient element present in the smallestrelative amount.
Law of the Minimum -Liebig'sLaw
Justus von Liebig, generally credited as the "father of the fertilizer industry",formulated the law ofthe minimum: if one crop nutrient is missing or deficient, plantgrowth will be poor, even if the otherelements are abundant.
Liebiglikens the potential of a crop to a barrel with staves of unequal length. The capacity of thisbarrel is limited by the length of the shortest stave (in this case, phosphorus) and can only beincreased by lengthening that stave. When that stave is lengthened, another one becomes thelimiting factor.
Sir John Lawes (1842)
Treated bones with sulfuricacid and began producing a product called superphosphate.
Boosted the yield on many soils.
Then a product called Chilean Nitrate was produced in Chile (south America).
The farmers used this expensive product of N but disappointed due to failure of increase production.
N and P both were needed by the plants.
In 1865, for the first time, potassium was detected in the rock salt mined at Stassfurt(Germany).
This discovery led to the foundation of K industry.