• Perennial ryegrass;
  • critical leaf concentrations;
  • macroelement deficiencies;
  • nutrient interactions;
  • nutrient solution requirements


Critical leaf concentrations for deficiency of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, sulphur, and magnesium were estimated for perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) grown in sand culture. The values associated with a 10% reduction in dry matter yield were as follows (all results expressed as g kg−1 DM except for the nitrate-nitrogen value which appears as μg−1 DM): Kjeldahl-nitrogen 32; nitrate-nitrogen 500; potassium 28; phosphorus 2.1; sulphur 1.8; and magnesium 0.7. A major difference between the critical leaf concentrations estimated in this study and the tentative values published elsewhere was for potassium. Concentrations required in the shoot for near maximum growth were higher than previously reported. Differences in the nitrogen status of the plants probably account for this result. The depressing effect of potassium on the absorption of magnesium and calcium is discussed in relation to plant and animal nutrition. Sulphur was found to be inefficiently absorbed by phosphorus deficient plants despite non-limiting amounts of sulphur applied in the nutrient solution. A possible explanation for this effect may be linked to the observation that the transport of sulphate into the chloroplast was coupled with that of phosphate. The concentration of macroelements required in the nutrient solution to produce maximum shoot growth of perennial ryegrass was very much greater than that generally applied to plants grown in sand culture.