Fertilizer tech data PDF Print E-mail
What is Fertilizer?

Fertilizer is any natural or manufactured material, which contains at least 5% of one or more of the three primary nutrients (N-P-K).
Plant Nutrients-16 Elements/plant nutrients are essential for plant growth. They are derived from air, water and soil as:

From the air - Carbon (C) as CO2.
From water - Hydrogen (H) and Oxygen (O) as H2O.
From the soil- fertilizer and organic manure – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo) and Chlorine (Cl).
Categories of Nutrients.

Apart from carbon, plants take up all nutrients from the soil solution. The nutrients are divided into two categories viz:
Macronutrients - Primary - Nitrogen,Phosphorus and Potassium.
Secondary – Magnesium, Sulfur and calcium.
Micronutrients/Trace elements - Iron, Manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, chlorine, boron.

Sources of plant nutrients:-
Mother soil – is a remarkable material. It is the upper most surface of the earth, which has been transformed slowly by decomposition under the action of weather, vegetation and man. It is the natural medium of plant nutrition for both wild and cultivated crops. Due to repeated cultivation and removal of plant nutrients, most soils have been depleted of nutrients and are unable to cope with the demand of cultivated crops. Soils particularly sandy and sandy loams have poor nutrient retention capacity and therefore need repeated application from external sources.
Organic manures -
organic manures include a wide range of materials such as cattle and poultry manure, urban wastes, crop residues, green manures, animal wastes, etc. Before thinking of fertilizer application, all available organic
plant nutrient sources should be utilized. They should however be well composted and well decomposed before application to the soil.
Even though the nutrient content of organic manure is low and variable, organic manure is valuable because it: Improves soil condition, improves soil structure, reduces soil erosion, regulates soil temperature, helps in water/moisture storage, provides food for soil organisms.
Bio fertilizers - Bio fertilizers are the living organisms that augment the supply of plant nutrients through:
Fixing of atmospheric nitrogen, solubilizing soil phosphorus, synthesizing and  growth promoting substances. These activities are part of the life cycle of some organisms. Because they add to supply of plant nutrients, they are called “bio fertilizers”.
Mineral fertilizers - Mineral fertilizers are manufactured products which contain a minimum of one plant nutrient. Fertilizers are rich sources of plant nutrients. Mineral fertilizers Categories – there are 2 main types:
Straight fertilizers - that contain only one primary nutrient. Example are Urea, Ammonium sulphate (AS), Calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), Single super phosphate (SSP), Triple super phosphate (TSP), Muriate of potash, etc.
Multi nutrient fertilizer – these are fertilizers containing two or more primary nutrients prepared by chemical or physical mixing of straight fertilizers.

In general there are 3 types of multi nutrient fertilizers:

Complex fertilizers – manufactured through processes involving chemical reaction between the constituents containing the primary plant nutrients (each granule contains the declared ratio of nutrients).
Compound fertilizers – granulated straight fertilizers or intermediates, the granules containing nutrients in varying proportions.
Mixed fertilizers/Blends – simple mechanical mixtures of straight fertilizers – the mixture may not be homogeneous if care is not taken.
Multi nutrient fertilizer. Examples of multi nutrient fertilizers are  diammonium phosphate (DAP), mono ammonium phosphate (MAP) and various formulations of NP and NPK.
Advantages of multi nutrient fertilizers:
Ease of handling, transport and storage, Ease of application, High nutrient content, Even distribution of nutrients in the field, Balanced fertilization and
High fertilizer efficiency.
Slow release fertilizers- Slow release fertilizers contain a plant nutrient (usually nitrogen) in a form which after application delays its availability for plant uptake significantly longer than a common fertilizer. This effect is obtained either by coating a common nitrogen or NPK fertilizer with sulfur or with a semi permeable polymer material or by special chemical nitrogen compound formulations.
Functions of some nutrients.

Nitrogen: Improves vegetative growth; helps in the synthesis of chlorophyll and  helps in the production of proteins.

Phosphorus: Helps in root development, Improves energy supply , Accelerates ripening.
Potash: Develops tolerance to moisture stress, Regulates water and energy supply, Improves quality of frits, vegetables and grains, Helps in early ripening, Develops resistance to diseases.

Sulfur: Increases supply of proteins, Increases oil content in oil crops.

Calcium: Improves cell structure thus improving growth and helps in cell division.
Magnesium: A component of chlorophyll, helps in production of green matter, helps in energy transfer Calcium, magnesium and sulfur, also correct chemical and physical properties of the soil.

Boron: Develops cell walls and promotes seed setting.

Copper: Activates enzyme activity and helps in the formation of chlorophyll.
Iron: Improves respiration and helps in the formation of chlorophyll.

Chlorine: Improves photosynthesis and helps in hydration of plant tissues.

Manganese: Promotes enzyme activity and helps in photosynthesis.

Molybdenum: Helps in nitrogen fixation and reduces nitogen formation.

Zinc: Helps in protein synthesis, improves their availability to plants and accelerates enzyme activity.
Determining fertilizer needs
•  Which nutrients are needed in the fertilizer?
•  How much of each nutrient is needed to get highest or most profitable (optimum) yield?

Plant nutrient removal figures at respective yield levels.
Nutrient hunger signs/deficiency symptoms.
Soil tests/analysis.
Plant and/or plant tissue tests in the field.
Fertilizer field trials.
Fertilizer application methods-
The method of fertilizer application is an essential component of good agricultural practices. Nutrient uptake by plants is determined by various factors such as:Crop variety, Planting date, Crop rotation, Soil and weather conditions. There are various ways to apply fertilizers. Most common are:
Broadcasting,Drilling, Side, Row or Band placement, Top dressing, Foliar application.
Fertilizers should be incorporated immediately after application to avoid losses due to run off, erosion or evaporation.  When fertilizer is applied by hand, extreme care needs to be taken to distribute nutrients uniformly and at exact rates. When fertilizer application equipment is used, it should be adjusted to ensure uniform spreading and correct rates. The equipment should be well maintained.
 

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