Table of Contents
What are Fertilizers?
Fertilizers are chemical substances supplied to the crops to increase their productivity. These are used by the farmers daily to increase the crops yield. The fertilizers contain the essential nutrients required by the plants including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. They enhance the water retention capacity of the soil and also increase its fertility.
Types of Fertilizers
There are six different types of fertilizers that are mentioned below:
Inorganic fertilizers are chemical fertilizers that contain nutrient elements for the growth of crops made by chemical means. The inorganic fertilizers are of the following types:
Nitrogen fertilizers contain nitrogen necessary for the development of crops. Nitrogen is the main constituent of chlorophyll that maintains a balance in the process of photosynthesis. It is also a part of amino acids in plants and constitutes protein. Nitrogen fertilizers improve the production and quality of agricultural products.
The main nutrient in a phosphorus fertilizer is phosphorus. The efficiency of fertilizer depends upon effective phosphorus content, methods of fertilizing, properties of soil and crop strains. Phosphorus found in the protoplasm of the cell plays an important role in cell growth and proliferation. The phosphorus fertilizer is beneficial for the growth of roots of the plants.
Organic fertilizers are natural fertilizers obtained from plants and animals. It enriches the soil with carbonic compounds essential for plant growth. Organic fertilizers increase the organic matter content of the soil, promotes the reproduction of microorganisms, and changes the physical and chemical properties of the soil. It is considered to be one of the main nutrients for green food.
Organic fertilizers can be obtained from the following products:
Advantages of Fertilizers
The advantages of fertilizers are mentioned below:
They are easy to transport, store, and apply.
For supplying a specific nutrient we can select a specific fertilizer due to its nutrient specific nature.
They are water soluble and can easily dissolve in the soil. Hence, they are easily absorbed by the plants.
They have a rapid effect on the crops.
They increase the crop yield and provide enough food to feed the large population.
They are predictable and reliable.
Disadvantages of Fertilizers
Fertilizers have the following disadvantages:
They are expensive.
The ingredients in the fertilizers are toxic to the skin and respiratory system.
Excessive use of fertilizers damages the plants and reduces soil fertility.
Leaching occurs and the fertilizers reach the rivers causing eutrophication.
Long term use reduces the microbial activity and disturbs the pH of the soil.
Uses of Fertilizers
Fertilizers are used for various purposes. The uses of fertilizers are mentioned below:
They are used to provide additional nutrients to the plants.
They are added to improve the yield of the crops.
Nitrogen-rich fertilizers are used for the greening of lawns.
Organic fertilizers improve the texture and fertility of the soil.
Gardeners use fertilizers to address certain needs of the plants such as nutritional needs.
Fertilizers are added to potted plants to replace the lost nutrients.
Importance of Fertilizers
It is very difficult to meet the demands of the increasing population with such less resources. Loss of soil fertility, pests, and lack of nutrients have resulted in a decrease in agricultural production. This has increased the importance of fertilizers in agriculture.
Fertilizers can be important to the plants in the following ways:
Fertilizers increase plants’ tolerance towards pests. This has reduced their reliance on insecticides and herbicides, thereby, producing healthier crops. Consequently, diseases have reduced providing aesthetic value to the crops.
Fertilizers improve the water holding capacity of the plants and increase root depth.
The potassium content present in the fertilizers strengthens the straws and stalks of the plants.
The phosphorus present in the fertilizers helps in the faster development of roots and formation of seeds in the plants.
Nitrogen in the fertilizers enhances the growth of the plants which can be characterized by the green colour of the plants.
Since the chemical fertilizers adversely affect soil fertility, biofertilizers were brought into use. These are substances that contain living or latent cells, and even micro-organisms. They provide the soil with the necessary nutrients and microbes for the growth of the plants. They help the soil to retain its fertility. They are environment-friendly. They also destroy pathogenic components responsible for causing disease in plants. Acetobacter and Rhizobium are two such widely used biofertilizers.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is fertilizer?
Fertilizer is a natural or synthetic substance that is applied to the soil or the plants to improve growth and productivity. They provide nutrients to the plants.
What are the different types of fertilizers?
The different types of fertilizers include:
- Inorganic fertilizer- Nitrogen fertilizer, Phosphorus fertilizer
- Organic fertilizers- Agricultural waste, livestock manure, municipal sludge
What are the main components of fertilizers?
The main components of fertilizers include- nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Its rating describes the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in a fertilizer.
What are the drawbacks of using fertilizers?
The excess nutrients from the fertilizers run off into water bodies and cause algal blooms. These algal blooms sometimes restrict the passage of waterways. When the algae die, they sink to the bottom of the water bodies and reduce the oxygen content in water. Also, excess use of fertilizers reduces the fertility of the soil.
What are the three numbers on fertilizers?
The three numbers on fertilizers represent the primary nutrients. A bag of fertilizers labelled 10-10-10 contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium. This label is a national standard and is known as the fertilizer grade.