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Justus Freiherr von Liebig (Father of Fertilizer) was a German chemist who made major
contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry, and was considered the founder of organic

Law of Minimum

 It states that plant growth is controlled by the scarcest resource and not by the total
amount of resources available. If one essential plant nutrient is deficient the plant growth
will be poor even when other essential nutrients or resources are abundant. These
resources can come from the soil such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium etc. or other
forms like sunlight and water that will be used. Plants are very dependent on all these
resources or nutrients because the amount in the ratio of these nutrients might affect the
plant growth.

Barrel Theory/Liebig’s Barrel

 Liebig used the image of a barrel to explain his law because the concept of wooden barrel
can be applied in the concept of growing a plant. If the barrel has a complete set of
staves and are equal in length, then it will hold maximum amount of water. Like in
plants, when it absorbs equal amount of nutrients and there is no limiting factor then the
plant will grow at its full potential.

However, if the wooden barrel has a short stave the water will flow out of the barrel until it
reaches the shortest stave same as with a plant, if there is unequal amount of nutrients/resources
the plant will grow as the limiting factor allows. Therefore, it grows smaller.
In order to correct this, a farmer needs to add resource that has a deficient; enough to balance the
resource. But a farmer cannot over correct the deficient resource because all the essential factors
in life that is below minimum or exceed at the maximum level of tolerance are considered as a
limiting one. That's why in order to maximize yield, we need to have a well-balanced soil or
amount of resources.


Frederick Frost Blackman was a British plant physiologist who proposed the law of limiting
factors in 1905.

Law of Limiting Factor

 Biotic and abiotic factors that restricts or slows down the number of reproduction of an
organism in an ecosystem. There are two kinds of limiting factor, first is the Dependent
Limiting Factor, any factor limiting the size of a population whose effect is dependent
on the number of individuals in the population. Second is the Independent Limiting
Factor, any factor limiting the size of a population whose effect is not dependent on the
number of individuals in the population.

Blackman’s Theory of Limiting Factor

 According to this law, when a process depends on a number of factors, its rate is limited
by the pace of the slowest factor. Blackman's law of limiting factors determines the rate
of the photosynthesis.
 Blackman’s Theory of Limiting Factor also take up the theory of Cardinal Points which
was suggested by Sachs According to this theory― there are three levels namely
minimum, optimum and maximum related to each factor affecting photosynthesis. First is
Minimum, it is the level below which photosynthesis does not take place. Second is the
Optimum, it is the level at which the rate of photosynthesis is maximum. Lastly is
Maximum, it is the level beyond which photosynthesis stops.

Take in for example the external factors that affect Photosynthetic reaction such as sunlight,
water, and carbon dioxide. If all are given a concentration of 10 then the rate of Photosynthetic
reaction is steady. However, if water, a raw material lacks the amount of concentration needed to
stabilize the Photosynthetic reaction, let’s say it only has 2 concentrations then this will be the
limiting factor which will decide on how fast or how slow the rate of reaction will be.

Law of Tolerance

Law of Tolerance is a principle developed by American zoologist Victor Ernest Shelford.

Law of Tolerance

 Organisms may be limited in their growth and their occurrence not only by too little of an
element or too low an intensity of an actor but also by too much of the element or too
high intensity of the factors.
 This law postulates that each ecological factor to which an organism responds has
maximum and minimum limiting effects between which lies a range or gradient that is
now known as the optimum.


 Between the lower and upper limits of tolerance lies a broad middle sector of a gradient
which is called the Optimal Range. It is the best or most favorable point, degree,
amount, etc., as of temperature, light, and moisture for the growth or reproduction of an
organism. The greatest degree or best result obtained or obtainable under specific
 The region at either end of the zone of compatibility is called the Lethal Zone or Zone
of Intolerance. It is the least most favorable point for the growth and reproduction of an
organism. It has too much, or too small amount of actors for the organism The zone of
compatibility too includes a broad range of optimum and narrow Zones of Physiological
Stresses in between the range of optimum and lethal zones. It is the area in a population's
geographic range where members of population are rare due to physical and biological
limiting factors.

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