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Your Complete Guide To Fertilizers: What They Are, Why You Need Them, And The Different Types Available

Farms rely on their crops to turn a profit, while people at home either rely on their garden as a way to grow beautiful flowers as part of their décor or to produce organic food that they will use in their cooking. Regardless, speeding up the growth of plants is something that most people desire, which is why they are often utilized.

Plants need a constant supply of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus to row. Additionally, plants also rely on secondary nutrients and micronutrients. Secondary nutrients include hydrogen, magnesium, sulfur, oxygen, carbon, and magnesium. Micronutrients that plants also require include nickel, manganese, boron, iron, chlorine, zinc, and copper. The perfect combination of these nutrients and substances will result in a crop that grows out beautifully and reduces the risk of dead plants.

Types of Fertilizers: Their Usage and Peculiarities

There are different types on the market that can be used to ensure plants are able to gain the nutrients they need to survive and grow, even in environments where the soil is not particularly nutrient rich.

Understanding what the different types are, what they contain, and how they work will ensure you make the right decision and buy a fertilizer that will work best for your crop.

Mineral Fertilizers

The goal of mineral fertilizers is to enrich the soil with minerals that have been removed through harvesting of a previous crop, or through other causes such as flooding. These tend to include a variety of minerals that restore a better balance of nutrients in the ground, like minerals, along with macronutrients, are important for the successful growth of any plants. Various types of mineral fertilizers are available today, with the most common options being:

Nitrogen Fertilizers

Nitrogen fertilizers, also called mineral nitrogenous, has the primary function of introducing a higher concentration of nitrogen to the soil and plants in the area. Different types of nitrogen have been developed, with some providing a slower release of the nitrogen into the soil and plants than others.Some nitrogen contain nitrogen molecules that are combined with other compounds such as amide nitrogen and ammonium nitrogen, for improved efficiency in producing enhanced absorption by the plants.The utilization of nitrogen first became popular in 1920. Following the discovery that nitrogen plays a vital role in the growth of plants, several scientists have developed ways to introduce nitrogen as either a liquid or a solid to the soil where crops are planted.

Ammoniacal Fertilizers

Ammoniacal fertilizers tend to utilize a combination of ammonium nitrogen, along with ammonia, with the primary ingredient being ammonium sulfate. Ammonium sulfate is a water-soluble molecule that is slowly absorbed by the soil and consists of approximately 20.3% nitrates. This type is used in basic fertilization conditions, and many farmers turn to ammoniacal fertilizers during the fall. The higher acidic rating makes it an ideal option for mustard, rape, garlic, onions, hops, rye, oats, buckwheat, and potatoes.

Potassium Nitrate Fertilizer

Potassium nitrate fertilizers are popular among farmers with higher value crops that they need to maintain. This type is also more appropriate for areas with higher temperatures, as they tend to be more soluble than potassium chloride and potassium sulfate fertilizers, especially when the temperature of the water starts to exceed 20 degrees Celsius. Potassium Nitrate contains two crucial nutrients that plants depend on – which, of course, would include both potassium and nitrates. They are free from any type of chloride, making them more ideal for plants that are not suitable for more acidic environments. The nitrate found are obtained from nitric acid, ammonium nitrate, or from sodium nitrate – the source does not particularly matter and usually depends on the resources that are available at the time of production.

Amide Nitrogen Fertilizer

An Amide Nitrogen Fertilizer is a type of ammoniacal fertilizer that primarily relies on nitrogen, which is included in the type in the form of an amide. The amide would be formed with carbon compounds and provide a water-soluble fertilizer that can be dissolved into water and then sprayed upon a crop. The nitrogen that is contained in these fertilizers will be converted into two different compounds in the soil, including nitrate and ammoniacal nitrogen. Calcium cyanamide and urea are two examples of commonly used Amide nitrogen. When calcium cyanamide is utilized as a soil food, it can lead to plant toxicity, which is why the fertilizer should be used a few weeks prior to sowing.

Potash Fertilizer

Also called potassic mineral fertilizers, this group includes a range of fertilizers that utilizes potassium as a primary nutrient. In addition to the potassium content, the majority of potash fertilizers tend to include a range of other minerals and elements as well, such as magnesium, calcium, and more. The potassium is usually added in a salt form, which may include Sylvite, Karnalit, Hard salt, Kainitit, or Kainit. The different forms of potassium salts used each have its own unique formula and chemical construction. Some of the potash fertilizers on the market can also be classified as a potassic chloride fertilizer or a potassic sulfate. No accompanying salts would be found in these options, except for either sulfate or chloride, depending on the preferred option. These are also known as concentrated potash fertilizers.

Complex Fertilizer

A complex fertilizer offers multiple plant-essential nutrients in one product to provide a more effective way to balance the ratio of nutrients found in soil. The nutrients included in these fertilizers mostly include potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen – these nutrients are considered most important for plant growth and will ensure plants can continue to thrive in different conditions. In many cases, more than 50% of the nitrogen found in complex fertilizers will be in the form of ammonium nitrogen, and a lower percentage will be in the form of nitrate.

Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers have become quite popular as well and are made from organic matter that is often derived from animals. Many of the organic fertilizers on the market are rich in nitrogen and sometimes other nutrients that plants rely on, making them excellent alternatives to mineral and artificial options.There are different options that can be selected when opting for organic fertilizers, such as:

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Manure Fertilizer

Manure fertilizers are very common and usually a very cheap option that can be used to fertilize the soil. This type is made from animal manure. They can be made from different animal manure, including droppings from chickens and other poultry animals. Cow and sheep manure are often also used. The only problem with this type is the fact that they are not as rich in nutrients as other options.

Compost Fertilizer

Compost is another affordable option and thought of “black gold” by many gardeners and even some farmers. A lot of people who maintain a small garden at home even make their own compost. There are two reasons why many people opt for compost – these fertilizers are usually rich in nutrients that are good for plants, and compost helps to promote improvements in the microbes found in the soil, ultimately enhancing plant growth.

Compost is an organic matter that has been decomposed. It can be used for most plants, including vegetables. Another important benefit offered by compost is the fact that this particular type also improves the moisture retention of the soil.

Peat Fertilizer

Peat moss is popular because it is organic and produces impressive results when it comes to fertilize the soil to improve the growth of plants. Peat fertilizers are known to improve soil texture and also helps to improve the soil’s general consistency. Furthermore, this type of fertilizer can enhance water management in the soil, and also ensure the soil remains rich in nutrients for a longer period of time.This particular type is often used with plants like camellias and blueberries, due to the acidic pH level introduced to the soil.

Sawdust Fertilizer

A lot of people who have their own gardens have also started to turn to sawdust as a fertilizer. This material can help to improve soil consistency and be used successfully as a fertilizer, but the low nitrogen and nutrient count in sawdust mean it should not be used alone. It is best to combine sawdust with nitrogen-rich compounds for a more effective approach to fertilizing the soil.Fertilizers with other important nutrients can also be added.

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Why Do We Need Fertilizers?

Fertilizers are substances that are either sprayed onto plants or worked into the soil where crops, flowers, herbs, and other plants are planted. These substances contain nutrients that are usually found naturally in soil. With continued harvesting, soil often becomes deprived of such nutrients. Similarly, sometimes soil simply lacks vital nutrients that are needed to ensure plants can grow more successfully.

Thus, by providing the soil with the essential nutrients, such as potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, plants can more effectively absorb these nutrients to help them grow faster, and sometimes even larger.

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