Majority of the nutrients that are essential for the growth and development of plants become available to the roots due to weathering and breakdown of rocks. These processes enrich the soil with dissolved ions and inorganic salts.
Since they are derived from the rock minerals, their role in plant nutrition is referred to as mineral nutrition. Soil consists of a wide variety of substances. Soil not only supplies minerals but also harbours nitrogen-fixing bacteria, other microbes, holds water, supplies air to the roots and acts as a matrix that stabilises the plant.
Since deficiency of essential minerals affect the crop-yield, there is often a need for supplying them through fertilisers. Both macro-nutrients (N, P, K, S, etc.) and micro-nutrients (Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn, etc.) form components of fertilisers and are applied as per need.