[Revision] Agriculture Chemistry: Mineral Nutrition, Plant Growth Regulators, Ethylene, Hydroponics, Photoperiodism, Vernalisation

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IAS Mock Interviews
  1. Prologue
  2. Plant growth regulators (PGRs)
    1. Auxins
    2. Gibberellins (GA)
    3. Cytokinins
    4. Ethylene
    5. Ethephon
    6. Abscisic acid (ABA)
    7. Essential elements
  3. Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
    1. Chlorosis vs Necrosis
    2. Nitrogen
  4. Misc. Terms
    3. Biennial Plants
    4. Plasticity
    5. Hydroponics
  5. Possible MCQs


  • To provide level playing field to “Only-IFoS” aspirants, UPSC had asked tough technical questions from environment and agriculture last time. For an ordinary “only-CSE” aspirant, the cost:Benefit not that good in pursuing those things.
  • However, some of the content provided in class 11-12 biology textbooks in connection with Botany and agriculture, could prove to be useful.
  • So, this article contains revision note out of Biology Class11: Chapter 12 (essential nutrients) and 15 (growth regulators).

Plant growth regulators (PGRs)

  • Growth means an irreversible permanent increase in size of an organ /cell.
  • water, oxygen and nutrients=> Metabolism (Anabolic/catabolic)=>Growth.
  • Plant growth regulators are indole compounds and have two subtypes:
    1. growth promoters (auxins, gibberellins and cytokinins)
    2. growth inhibitor (e.g. Absicis acid)

Ethylene fits in either group, but largely growth inhibitor.


  • Auxins (Greek word “to grow”). Chemically they’re indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).
  • first isolated from human urine
  • Auxins used for Parthenocarpy in tomatoes i.e. the development of a fruit without fertilization or seeds.
  • Assertion: Auxins used as herbicides. Correct Reason: They can kill dicotyledonous weeds without harming mature monocotyledonous plants.
  • Auxins help to initiate rooting in stem cuttings- hence used for plant propagation.
  • Auxins prevent fruit and leaf from dropping at early stages but promote the abscission of older mature leaves and fruits.
  • Auxins promote flowering in pineapples.

Gibberellins (GA)

  • Gibberellins (1) increase length of grapes stalks (2) They elongate and improve shape of Apples.

    They delay senescence, so fruits can be left on the tree longer so as to extend the market period.

  • In brewing industry, GA 3 is used to fasten the malting process
  • Sugarcane stores carbohydrate as sugar in their stems. GA spray will increase stem’s length & thereby yield to 20 tonnes per acre.
  • GA spray will hasten maturity of juvenile conifers and lead to early seed production.
  • In beet, cabbages – GA promotes bolting (internode elongation just prior to flowering).
  • All GAs are acidic in Nature.


  • They’re produced in in regions where rapid cell division occurs- e.g. root apices, developing shoot buds, young fruits etc.
  • They produce new leaves, chloroplasts in leaves and growth of shoot.
  • They promote nutrient mobilisation to delay leaf senescence
  • Cytokinins help overcome the apical dominance.
  • Apical dominance: In most higher plants, the growing apical bud inhibits the growth of the lateral (axillary) buds. Therefore, in plantations, hedge-making- shoot tips are remoted (decapitation) to make lateral buds grow.


  • Ethylene is a simple gaseous Plant growth regulators (PGRs)
  • It is synthesized in tissues undergoing senescence and ripening fruits
  • In leaves and flowers, Ethylene promotes following
    • Senescence: process of growing older and showing the effects of increasing age
    • Abscission: Shedding of flowers, leaves and fruit.
    • respiratory climactic: Ethylene enhances the respiration rate during ripening of the fruits. Thus helps in fruit ripening.
  • Ethylene breaks seed and bud dormancy, peanut seeds germination, potato tubers’ sprouting,
  • Ethylene promotes elongation in deep water rice plants so leaves can remain above water.
  • Ethylene also promotes root hair growth to increase absorption surface
  • Ethylene is used to synchronise fruit-set in pineapples and flowering in mango

    Since ethylene regulates so many physiological processes, it is one of the most widely used PGR in agriculture


  • Ethephon is most widely used source of Ethylene. It is an aqueous solution is readily absorbed and transported within the plant and releases ethylene slowly.
  • Ethephon hastens fruit ripening in tomatoes and apples and accelerates abscission in flowers and fruits (thinning of cotton, cherry, walnut). It promotes female flowers in cucumbers thereby increasing the yield.

Abscisic acid (ABA)

  • It acts as a general plant growth inhibitor, metabolism inhibitor, seed germination inhibitor.
  • ABA induces dormancy, helps seeds to withstand desiccation.
  • Assertion: Abscisic acid is also known as stress hormone. Correct Reason:  It increases the tolerance of plants to various kinds of stresses.

Essential elements

  • weathering and breakdown of rocks=> essential minerals => root=> xylem tissue=> plant
  • Thus, Most of the essential minerals are derived from the rock minerals. Therefore, plant nutrition is called “mineral nutrition”.
  • 60+ elements found in different plants- including gold, selenium and even radioactive strontium (if plant growing in nuke site)
  • So, the question is- how can we know if given element is essential for plant or not?

Well, Essential elements have 3 characteristics:

  • If they’re absent, plant will not complete its lifecycle.
  • They’re not replaceable by other elements.
  • They’re directly involved in plant-metabolism.

Total 17 Essential elements further divided into two groups:

Macronutrients vs Micronutrients
Present in plant tissues in large amounts (>10 mmole Kg –1 of dry matter).Less amount / trace elements.
  • From soil: nitrogen, phosphorous (ATP), sulphur, potassium (stomata opening-closing), calcium and magnesium (Chlorophyll)
  • From air:  carbon, hydrogen, oxygen
iron, manganese, copper, molybdenum, zinc, boron, chlorine and nickel
Among above, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen are components of biomolecules hence called “structural elements”
If nitrogen, potassium and magnesium deficiency, then it’ll be first visible in the senescent leaves.

Chlorosis vs Necrosis

Leaves turn yellow due to loss of Chlorophyll.Death of leaf tissue
deficiency of elements N, K, Mg, S, Fe, Mn, Zn and Modeficiency of Ca, Mg, Cu, K.


Nitrogen Cycle Agriculture Chemistry

  • Plants need this element in the greatest amount, because of
    • Its role in meristematic tissues and the metabolically active cells.
    • Nitrogen is one of the major constituents of proteins, nucleic acids, vitamins and hormones.
  • Artificial: Industrial combustions, forest fires, automobile exhausts and power-generating stations.
  • Natural: Decomposition of organic material => Ammonification => Nitrogen fixing bacteria Nitrosomonas and/or Nitrococcus => Nitrite=>oxidation by Nitrobacter.
  • nitrogen-fixing microbes could be free-living or symbiotic.
  • Azotobacter is a free-living nitrogen-fixing aerobic microbes.
  • Assertion: nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for both natural and agricultural eco-systems. Correct-Reason: Plants compete with microbes for the limited nitrogen in the soil.

Misc. Terms


  • Plant-flowering depends on combination of light exposure and its duration. This is known as photoperiodism.
  • Day-neutral plants: They have no correlation between exposure to light duration and flowering response.


Vernalisation: When flowering is dependent on exposure to low temperature. Example- Wheat, barley and rye- they have two varieties:

Planted in autumnnormally planted in the spring and come to flower and produce grain before the end of the growing season.
If winter variety of planted in spring, they’ll fail to flower / they’ll fail to produce mature grain within flowering season.

Biennial Plants

  • Examples: Sugerbeet, cabbages, carrots.
  • They normally flower and die in the second season.
  • They are monocarpic plants i.e. Dying after bearing fruit only once.


  • It means Plants follow different pathways in response to environment to form different kinds of structures. This ability is called e.g., heterophylly in cotton, coriander and larkspur.
  • In such plants, juvenile plant’s leaves are different in shape than mature plants.


  • German Botanist Julius von Sachs showed plants could be grown without soil, in a nutrient solution. This technique is called hydroponics.
  • Hydroponics is used in commercial cultivation of tomato, seedless cucumber and lettuce.

Possible MCQs

  1. Which of the following statements are correct about (1) plant growth regulators (2) photoperiodism (3) vernalisation (4) Biennial plants (4) Hydropphonics (5) essential elements’ characteristics (6) Nitrogen cycle
  2. Which of the macronutrients are available from soil / air?
  3. Which of the following are examples of micronutrients?
  4. How does Gibberellins spray increases the yield in sugar cane?
  5. Which of the following effects on flower/fruits are caused by ethylene?
  6. Why is Abscisic acid called a “stress hormone”?
  7. Which of the following are examples of biennial plants?
  8. What is Parthenocarpy? Why is Auxin used in it?
  9. Difference between Plasticity and apical dominance?
  10. Match the following: plant growth regulator vs. impacts, essential element versus its importance

Mrunal recommends

  1. (free) NCERT, NIOS, TN-Books 4 History,Geo,Sci
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  3. Spectrum: Modern History (Hindi | English)
  4. Maths: Quantam CAT Sarvesh Kumar
  5. Objective General English SP Bakshi
  6. Word Power made Easy -Norman Lowe
  7. Topic wise Solved Paperset by Disha

60 Comments on “[Revision] Agriculture Chemistry: Mineral Nutrition, Plant Growth Regulators, Ethylene, Hydroponics, Photoperiodism, Vernalisation”

  1. Sir, please upload revision notes from Class 12 Biology NCERT as well before prelims. Relying on these for preparations. Might get lucky.

  2. Great work Mrunal sir. Making lives easier even during these trying times.

  3. sir please yeh sara data hindi main translate kar do

  4. Please provide tags, like your other article to search easily and please add a option in your revision menu too

  5. thankyou sir:)

  6. Extra shots:

    Plant nutrients :- total 16
    A) non mineral :- C,H,O
    B) mineral :- 1.macro –
    Primary- N,P,K
    Secondary – Calcium,Magnesium,Sulpher

    2. micro – Boron,Cobalt,Chlorine,Iron,Zinc,Magnese,Molybdenum(BCCI MZM)

    1. micro-nutrients – boron (B), chloride (Cl), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni) and zinc (Zn) [ZINC+BMCM]

    2. good mnemonic Latwal

  7. Nicely summarized. Thanks for the effort Sir.

  8. Mrunal sir Please Upload some GS 1 mock paper , if its possible .

  9. yesterday gave SSC CGL 2015 Tier 1
    getting about 107 as per an answerkey
    is there any chance for making to Tier 2

    1. The cutoff is always around 96. You’ll clearly make it, but maybe you’ll have to work hard since the cutoff after tier 2 is around 400 for non interview and 430 for interview.

    2. what was ur set no?

      and did u hv visually handicapped question in ur paper

      1. no there were no such question in my paper
        and i am also unable to find my test booklet number on the internet but it does not matter. i checked from a random answerkey
        whats ur score

        1. 102 OBC category

          where u live?

          1. plz share answerkey site.

    3. @Civil Service Aspirant

      Less chances. Paper was easy, so merit will also fly high.

    4. sure…..u will clear…focus on 23 now

  10. hello

    i gave ssc cgl yesterday

    but i am unable to find my test form no. on the internet

    and also there were no visually handicapped question in my paper

    is there any problem guys?

    1. there is serious problem dude..
      unless ur ultimate aim is to crack only ssc don’t waste time searching answer key & focus on 23rd august

  11. Thankyou so much.

  12. Mrunal sir, how to find the OLF from you r website ? I browsed the current affairs and economy concepts .rest i typed myself in google..like mrunal RPA , et …. Please reply ….urgent .prelims on head!

  13. Sir. Yesterday I gave SSC cgl and there was one question which says whoi is the founder of gupta dynasty .. I have the ncert history as well as Tamil nadu history book. And I have not found the sri gupta mentioned there. Please clarify that

    1. its written in TN book… 11 class…
      Read it again

  14. Very good content
    Thanks a lot ..
    Expecting some more imp compilation on the other topics

  15. anybdy English Literature optional ??

    1. anybodyEnglish Literature optional ??

  16. sir
    in ssc cgl one question was there about the founder of Gupta dynasty .. i want to know the answer .. in TAMIL NADU book and NCERT book , nowhere it is written about SRI GUPTA .. please clarify the answer please

    1. @Abhishek.. Sri Gupta was founder of Gupta dynasty.. Its mentioned on page 97 of TN Board Histroy book, under the paragraph for Chandragupta I.. Its the first line of that paragraph..

      1. TN Board History textbook for class 11..

  17. Heterophylly has by mistake been given a wrong heading, ‘plasticity’,

  18. Thank Yu a lot sir. Systematized matter, ready for revision. Great work sir. Thank yu Mrunal sir & team.

  19. sir, there are very much stuff of current affairs pls provide valuable current material for csat. i am completely rely on mrunal.org.,

  20. Mrunal sir how can i access the article links given in ppt, simple click on the link doesn’t help.

  21. Great work ….highly appreciable…

  22. Once revise all this. this year goverment focus on north east region—–
    1.North East Festival.
    2.Kiran Project
    3.9 Point Agreement
    4.16 Point Agreement
    5. Rani Gaidinliu
    6.North-East Border with other countries.
    7.Bezbaruah Committee
    8.Nagaland under the External Affairs Ministry (MEA)

  23. Thank you. Mrunal

  24. Perfect..thanks a lot for this initiative..please add to this compilation

  25. GS paper II is of qualifying nature only or its marks will be counted for merit calculation?

    1. gs 2 marks will be tripled and then it will be counted for merit. hope your doubt is now clear

    2. which GS paper II are you talking about?i assume you are talking about csat II of upsc cse(prelims).its only qualifying and marks will not be counted for merit.33.5% marks=67/200 marks needed to qualify.hope it helps.

      1. little correction.its 33% not 33.5%.sorry for the mistake.

  26. @shweta its of qualifying nature only.not for merit

  27. Shweta ,

    Gs2 a.k.a cast paper is just qualifying . U only need minimum 66 marks in it to qualify it !!! Hope ur doubt is cleared !!


    1. thank you all…nitesh sir ,karan sir and dove…but gaurav pratap sir what u were telling about. I got confused as the language written in notification was ” minimum quqlifying marks 33%” but it was not made clear whether marks will be counted in merit calculation. thank u all


  29. Hello ppl.. the Number of attempts thing is troubling me again n again. Is there any chance that in 2016 upsc wl limit the no.of attempts to juz 3 (as per 2nd arc)

    1. I have been told that maximum age limit shall be lowered to 26 or 28 yrs don’t knw abt no of attempts

    2. For now we can attempt only 4 times (for general category) right??

    3. Kahe bhaiya panic failate ho??
      Kuch nhi ho rha aisa, aaram se do.
      Darr mat baanto, khusiyan baanto.

  30. Sir, I am waiting for Pillar 7 Economy lecture. Will you post it soon? HRD.

  31. What could be the expected cutoff for this years prelims???????

    1. I think It would be around 80 marks..since paper II made qualifying..and previous records says most of the qualifiers (prelims) targeted paper II to get through and only few people crossed 100 in paper I.

      1. thanxs ……hope it to be around dat only……

    2. i think that as the csat is now only qualifying in nature , then more people will focus on GS 1 . therefore there is gud chance that this time the cutoff i gs 1 will be much more than compared to last year.
      i believe that the cut off will be around 100 -120 marks.
      but then there is also a possibility that upsc will make a tough csat paper. so that only those candidates with a gud aptitude could get through. this may lower the cut off to 100-110.

  32. Thanks a lot Mrunal sir.. I really need this..

  33. Sir, Can you tell me the qualifying marks in Mains Paper-I &Paper-II and also can u tell me the how much marks have to gain in Prelims …is there any section cutoff marks ? now a days CSAT is only qualifying paper k ..if So How much marks have to gain in Prelims Paper -I

    Thank You Sir

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