Guideline Index

Chapter 2: Limits to Plant Growth

2.1 Introduction

The growth of plants is the result of a sequence of complex steps starting with cell division and ending with the irreversible increase in size. Growth can be measured in many different ways but is generally measured either in terms of an increase in height or weight, although sometimes ground cover or density is the growth indicator. If measuring weight, pasture growth is more commonly expressed in terms of an increase in dry weight rather than fresh weight due to the variable moisture status .

For optimum pasture performance it is important to have an understanding of how the plant functions and responds to the various growth limiting factors.

Each factor, whether acting as an individual or interacting with another, can become the limiting factor to pasture or crop production. See “Law of the Limiting in Chapter 3.3 .

Growth limiting factors could be classified according to internal or external factors including:


  • Plant species or variety
  • Plant growth hormones and regulators produced at different growth stages or maturity


The external and internal factors do not act independent of each other, instead interacting in relationships that can be quite complex. The external factors will be discussed in this chapter.