Top Soil Nutrients

Plants require certain nutrients for survival. Healthy topsoil provides many of these necessary nutrients. The amount of topsoil varies among geographical areas, ranging from several feet in some places to little or none in windy and rocky areas. Natural occurrences such as wind and rain erode the topsoil. Human disturbances, such as strip mining, farming and construction activities, remove areas of topsoil. Plants require certain nutrients commonly found in the layer of topsoil. These nutrients play an important part in the growth and reproduction of plants.

Nitrogen (N)

This important nutrient helps supply plants with their green color. A part of chlorophyll, this nutrient helps plants grow quickly and produce fruits and vegetables. Adequate amounts of nitrogen in the soil promote abundant foliage in forage and leaf crops.

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus also helps plants perform the process of photosynthesis. Sufficient amounts of phosphorus in the topsoil encourage healthy root development and blossom formation.

Potassium (K)

This topsoil nutrient helps plants build protein and assists in fruit production. Plants absorb large amounts of potassium during their life cycles.

Calcium (Ca)

Average topsoil contains calcium. This important nutrient plays a crucial part in the formation of a plant's cell wall structure. In salty and alkaline soils, calcium counteracts the damaging effect of these conditions.

Magnesium (Mg)

Chlorophyll contains magnesium, something all green plants require for survival. This soil nutrient also helps plants produce necessary enzymes.

Sulfur (S)

Plants require sulfur to produce protein. Sulfur in the topsoil helps plants develop strong roots and produce seeds. Soil containing adequate amounts of sulfur strengthens plants and helps them withstand cold temperatures.


Topsoil also contains miniscule portions of certain nutrients. Also referred to as minor elements and trace elements, these nutrients exist in small amounts in the layer of topsoil. Micronutrients include boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), manganese (Mn), chloride (Cl), iron (Fe) and copper (Cu). Although these nutrients exist in small amounts in the topsoil, they perform vital functions in plant growth and development.

Keywords: topsoil, soil nutrients, plant nutrients

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.