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Sulphates are organic and inorganic compounds of the chemical element sulphur (S), which exist in many forms. In the narrower sense, the term refers to the salts and esters of sulphuric acid (H₂SO₄). In plant physiology, inorganic sulphates play an important role alongside nutrients in various essential processes such as protein biosynthesis, cell growth, photosynthesis and protection against disease (as do chlorides, nitrates and phosphates). There are the following compounds with the listed functions:

  • Aluminium sulphate (Al₂(SO₄)₃) - soil improvement to lower the pH value; plant health
  • Calcium sulphate (CaSO₄) - cell growth; strengthens plant structure, soil structure; water absorption
  • Iron sulphate (FeSO₄) - electron transport photosynthesis; energy production; oxygen transport
  • Potassium sulphate (K₂SO₄) - osmotic pressure; nutrient transport; drought tolerance, disease resistance
  • Magnesium sulphate (MgSO₄) - chlorophyll production; photosynthetic performance
  • Sodium sulphate (Na₂SO₄) - osmotic pressure for water balance; nutrient uptake; vitality

Another inorganic sulphate is silver sulphate (Ag₂SO₄). This is used in water treatment to eliminate unwanted microorganisms. Most of these sulphates can also occur in small quantities in soil and water. Above a certain level, they can lead to environmental problems such as soil acidification.

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