Nickel (Ni) was added to the list of essential plant nutrients late in the 20th century. Plants absorb Ni as the divalent cation Ni2+. It is required in very small amounts, with the critical level appearing to be about 0.1 parts per million.

Quick Facts

No Ni deficienceies have been observed under crop-growing conditions, but in crop research settings, ag scientists have reproduced deficiency symptoms such as chlorosis of young leaves and dead meristematic tissue.

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Nickel deficiency has been observed in some nursery plants and tree crops. Affected trees develop mouse-ear, a condition marked by small, curled leaves and stunted growth.

Quick Facts

Nickel is a component of the urease enzyme and is, therefore, necessary for the conversion of urea to ammonia (NH3) in plant tissue, making it important in plant nitrogen (N) metabolism.

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Nickel (Ni) was added to the list of essential plant nutrients late in the 20th century. Nickel is important in plant N metabolism because it is a component of the urease enzyme. Without the presence of Ni, urea conversion is impossible. It is required in very small amounts, with the critical level appearing to be about 0.1 ppm.

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Source: Soil Fertility Manual (2006) by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and the Foundation for Agronomic Research (FAR).

Deficiency Symptoms

Symptoms of deficiency can vary across crop species, but similarities exist for how nutrient insufficiency impacts plant tissue color and appearance. Nutrient deficiencies are commonly associated with the physical location on the plant (i.e., whether the symptoms are primarily observed on older versus newly formed plant tissue), but these symptoms can spread as the severity of the deficiency progresses.

All photos are provided courtesy of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and its IPNI Crop Nutrient Deficiency Image Collection. The photos above are a sample of a greater collection, which provides a comprehensive sampling of hundreds of classic cases of crop deficiency from research plots and farm fields located around the world. For access to the full collection, you can visit IPNI's website.