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More about grasses on golf courses in Thailand: a Christmas Eve miscellany

An elemental cartogram: the relative mineral nutrient amounts in turfgrass leaves

The periodic table of the elements usually looks like this.

image from upload.wikimedia.org"Standard form of the periodic table" by DePiep is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Elemental cartograms show the periodic table in a different way, with the area of each element modified by a theme. The most abundant elements in turfgrass leaves are carbon (C), oxygen (O), and hydrogen (H). The grass obtains these elements from water (H2O) and from carbon dioxide (CO2). Grass is never deficient in C, O, or H; these 3 elements make up 90 to 95% of turfgrass leaves, by mass.

The elements that the grass obtains from the soil, and that are sometimes applied as fertilizer, are termed mineral nutrients. I made an elemental cartogram (using this tool from Babak Sanii) for mineral nutrients in creeping bentgrass leaves, omitting C, O, and H because they would otherwise overshadow all the others.

Turf_leaf_elemental_cartogramThe macronutrients nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are relatively large, and then comes phosphorus (P) and the secondary nutrients calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). The other elements are used by the grass in such small amounts that they don't stand out in this type of chart.

As an example, iron (Fe) is usually the micronutrient at the highest concentration in leaves, often at about 100 ppm (100 mg kg-1). Nitrogen will be at about 4%, which is 40,000 ppm. So there is 400 times as much N in the leaf as there is of the most abundant micronutrient, Fe.

For more about the different elements, what they do in the turfgrass leaves, and in what amounts they are normally found, see:


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