When Is a Substance Called a Limiting Nutrient?

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A substance is a limiting nutrient when it runs out first, meaning that it is needed in a chemical reaction, but isn't present in sufficient quantities to allow the reaction to occur. Test for limiting nutrients in a controlled manner with help from a science teacher and field biologist in this free video on chemistry.

Part of the Video Series: Biology & Organic Chemistry
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Brian with ericksontutoring.blogspot.com. Today we're going to when something is considered a limiting nutrient. So a limiting nutrient is a substance that essentially runs out first. It's something that's needed in a chemical reaction but isn't present in sufficient quantities to allow the reaction to occur. So this often happens with different types of growth and metabolism and those sorts of things. And plants and animals and all sorts of living organisms you often have nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and a couple other major nutrients that serve as limiting nutrients and thus prevent growth from happening. A good way to test if you think that you have a limiting nutrient, is to in a controlled manner, only add one nutrient that you think you're lacking and if it changes and growth continues and picks up again, then that was probably the limiting nutrient. If nothing changes, you still need to keep searching because that wasn't it. Keep searching until growth is sort of restarted. So, this was a brief discussion of what exactly it means to be a limiting nutrient.

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