Fertilizers refer to natural or synthetic materials applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants.
Many sources of fertilizer exist, both natural and industrially produced. These include:
- Amonium nitrogen fertilizer, nitrate-nitrogen fertilizer, amide nitrogen fertilizer, phosphorus fertilizer, mixing soluble phosphate fertilizer, citrate-soluble phosphatic fertilizer, agricultural wastes, livestock manure, etc.
- The fertilizers are well bagged, packed, and available for shipping nationwide
Uses and benefits
- With the global population steadily growing, it is important that enough crops are produced each year to provide food, clothing, and other agricultural products to people around the world.
- Fertilizer plays an important role in providing crops with the nutrients they need to grow and be harvested for nutritious food.
- Fertilizers help deliver enough food to feed the world’s population.
- A class of fertilizers called micronutrient fertilizers is engineered to enrich crops with vital nutrients that help support human health. For example, micronutrients such as zinc are important to human nutrition, especially children.
- Fertilizers provide the major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium and important secondary elements) that plants need. Nutrient requirements change between crops, location, and even during the crop’s growth cycle.
- Effective fertilization closely matches the nutrients available in the soil to different requirements.
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Fertilizer is a natural or artificial substance containing the chemical elements that improve the growth and productiveness of plants. Fertilizers enhance the natural fertility of the soil or replace the chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops.
The use of manure and composts as fertilizers is probably almost as old as agriculture. Fertilizers are used daily by farmers and families to help crops and gardens grow. Whether for a small garden of flowers and plants, or a large farm with thousands of acres of crops, a wide range of fertilizers have been developed to help different crops grow in different soil and weather conditions.
Modern chemical fertilizers include one or more of the three elements that are most important in plant nutrition: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Of secondary importance are the elements sulfur, magnesium, and calcium.
- Most nitrogen fertilizers are obtained from synthetic ammonia; this chemical compound (NH3) is used either as a gas or in a water solution, or it is converted into salts such as ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium phosphate. Packinghouse wastes, treated garbage, sewage, and manure are also common sources of ammonia.
- Phosphorus fertilizers include calcium phosphate derived from phosphate rock or bones. The more soluble superphosphate and triple superphosphate preparations are obtained by the treatment of calcium phosphate with sulfuric and phosphoric acid, respectively.
- Potassium fertilizers, namely potassium chloride and potassium sulfate, are mined from potash deposits.
- Mixed fertilizers contain more than one of the three major nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Mixed fertilizers can be formulated in hundreds of ways.
Notice on the use of fertilizers
Fertilizer use is sometimes expensive and can harm the environment if not used correctly. Therefore, before adding fertilizer, farmers should send a soil sample to a laboratory for baseline testing. By testing their soil, farmers know which nutrients—and how much—to apply to the soil. If too little is added, crops will not produce as much as they should. If too much is added, or at the wrong time, excess nutrients will run off the fields and pollute streams and groundwater. So, while fertilizers serve an important purpose, farmers must be careful to use the right amount, at the right time, to avoid potential negative effects on the environment.