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Fertilizer

Fertilizers (or fertilisers) are substances that supply plant nutrients or amend soil fertility. They are the most effective (30 -80 per cent increase in yields) means of increasing crop production and of improving the quality of food and fodder. Fertilizers are used in order to supplement nutrient supply in the soil, especially to correct yield-limiting factors.

Fertilizers are applied to promote plant growth; the main nutrients present in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (the 'macronutrients') and other nutrients ('micronutrients') are added in smaller amounts. Fertilizers are usually directly applied to soil, and can also be sprayed on leaves as a foliar feeding.

Organic fertilizers and some mined inorganic fertilizers have been used for many centuries, whereas chemically synthesized inorganic fertilizers were only widely developed during the industrial revolution. Increased understanding and use of fertilizers were important parts of the pre-industrial British Agricultural Revolution and the industrial Green Revolution of the 20th century.

Inorganic fertilizer use has also significantly supported global population growth— it has been estimated that almost half the people on the Earth are currently fed as a result of artificial nitrogen fertilizer use.

Fertilizers typically provide, in varying proportions:

The macronutrients are consumed in larger quantities and are present in plant tissue in quantities from 0.2% to 4.0% (on a dry matter weight basis). Micronutrients are consumed in smaller quantities and are present in plant tissue in quantities measured in parts per million (ppm), ranging from 5 to 200 ppm, or less than 0.02% dry weight.

The nitrogen-rich fertilizer ammonium nitrate is also used as an oxidizing agent in improvised explosive devices, sometimes called fertilizer bombs, leading to sale regulations.

Labeling

Macronutrient fertilizers

Macronutrient fertilizers are labeled with an NPKanalysis (also "N-P-K-S" in Australia).

Fertilizer is described by a three number designator; for example, 20-20-10. These numbers are percentages of three elements: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, respectively. Therefore, 20-20-10 fertilizer contains 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 10% potassium by weight.

Example of labeling

The fertilizer potash(potassium carbonate) is composed of 1:1 potassium to carbonate by volume (47:53 by wt., owing to differences inmolecular weight between potassium and carbonate).

Traditional analysis of 100g of potassium chloride (KCl) would yield 60g of potassium oxide (K2O). The percentage yield of K2O from the original 100g of fertilizer is the number shown on the label. A potash fertilizer would thus be labeled 0-0-60, and not 0-0-52.

History

The modern understanding of plant nutrition dates to the 19th century and the work of Justus von Liebig, among others. Management of soil fertility, however, has been the pre-occupation of farmers for thousands of years.

Forms

Fertilizers come in various forms. The most typical form is granular fertilizer (powder form). The next most common form is liquid fertilizer; some advantages of liquid fertilizer are its immediate effect and wide coverage. There are also slow-release fertilizers (various forms including fertilizer spikes, tabs, etc.) which reduce the problem of "burning" the plants due to excess nitrogen.

Finally, organic fertilizer is on the rise as people are resorting to environmental friendly (or 'green') products. Although organic fertilizer usually contain less nutrients, some people still prefer organic due to natural ingredients.

Inorganic fertilizer (synthetic fertilizer)

Fertilizers are broadly divided into organic fertilizers (composed of enriched organic matter—plant or animal), orinorganic fertilizers (composed ofsynthetic chemicals and/or minerals).

Inorganic fertilizer is often synthesized using the Haber-Bosch process, which produces ammonia as the end product. This ammonia is used as a feedstock for other nitrogen fertilizers, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

  • It contains sufficient minerals (trace elements) for plant nutrition, including boron, chlorine, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, sulfur, and zinc.
  • It contains soil organic matter that improves soil structure and soil moisture retention.
  • Soil pH is in the range 6.0 to 6.8 for most plants but some prefer acid or alkaline conditions.
  • Good soil structure, creating well drained soil, but some soils are wetter (as for producing rice) or drier (as for producing plants susceptible to fungi or rot) such as agave.
  • A range of microorganisms that support plant growth.
  • It often contains large amounts of topsoil.
  • In lands used for agriculture and other human activities, fertile soil typically arises from the use of soil conservation practices.

    Soil Fertilization

    Nitrogen peroxide is the element in the soil that is most often lacking. Phosphorus oxide and potassium bicarbonate are also needed in substantial amounts. For this reason these three elements are always included in commercial fertilizers and the content of each of these items is included on the bags of fertilizer. For example a 10-10-15 fertilizer has 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent (P2O5) available phosphorus and 15 percent (K2O) water soluble potassium. Inorganic fertilizers are generally less expensive and have higher concentrations of nutrients than organic fertilizers. Some have criticized the use of inorganic fertilizers claiming that the water-soluble nitrogen doesn't provide for the long-term needs of the plant and creates water pollution. Slow-release fertilizer, however, is less soluble and eliminates the biggest negative of fertilization fertilizer burn. Additionally, most soluble fertilizers are coated, such as sulfur-coated urea.

    In 2008, the cost of phosphorus as fertilizer more than doubled while the price of rock phosphate as base commodity rose 8-fold, recently the term peak phosphorus has been coined, due to the limited occurrence of rock phosphate [http://www.apda.pt/apda_resources/APDA.Biblioteca/eureau%5Cposition%20papers%5Cthe%20reuse%20of%20phosphorus.pdf] in the world.

    Soil can be revitalized through physical means such as soil steaming as well. Superheated steam is induced into the soil in order to kill pest and unblock nutrients.

    Light and CO2 limitations

    Photosynthesis is the process whereby plants use light energy to drive chemical reactions which convert CO2 into sugars. As such, all plants require access to both light and carbon dioxide to produce energy, grow and reproduce.

    While typically limited by nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, low levels of carbon dioxide can also act as a limiting factor on plant growth. Peer reviewed and published scientific studies have shown that increasing CO2 is highly effective at promoting plant growth up to levels over 300ppm. Further increases in CO2 can, to a very small degree, continue to increase net photosynthetic output (Chapin et al., 2002 - Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology).

    Since higher levels of CO2 have only a minimal impact on photosynthetic output at present levels (presently around 380 ppm and increasing), we should not consider plant growth to be limited by carbon dioxide. Other biochemical limitations, such as soil organic content, nitrogen in the soil, phosphorus and potassium, are far more often in short supply. As such, neither commercial nor scientific communities look to air fertilization as an effective or economic method of increasing production in agriculture or natural ecosystems. Furthermore, since microbial decomposition occurs faster under warmer temperatures, higher levels of CO2 (which is one of the causes of unusually fast climate change) should be expected to increase the rate at which nutrients are leached out of soils and may have a negative impact on soil fertility.

    Soil depletion

    Soil depletion occurs when the components which contribute to fertility are removed and not replaced, and the conditions which support soil fertility are not maintained. This leads to poor crop yields. In agriculture, depletion can be due to excessively intense cultivation and inadequate soil management.

    One of the most widespread occurrences of soil depletion as of 2008 is in tropical zones where nutrient content of soils is low. The combined effects of growing population densities, large-scale industrial logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and ranching, and other factors, have in some places depleted soils through rapid and almost total nutrient removal.

    Topsoil depletion is when the nutrient rich organic topsoil that takes hundreds to thousands of years to build up under natural conditions is eroded or depleted of its original organic material. Historically, many past civilizations collapses can be attributed to the depletion of the topsoil. Since the beginning of agricultural production in the Great Plains of North America in the 1880s about one half of its topsoil has disappeared.

    Depletion may occur through a variety of other effects, including overtillage which damages soil structure, overuse of inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, which leave residues and buildups that inhibit microorganisms, and salinization of soil.

    Global Distribution


    Organic fertilizer

    Organic fertilizers are naturally-occurring fertilizers (e.g. compost, manure), or naturally-occurring mineral deposits (e.g. saltpeter).

    Naturally-occurring organicfertilizers includemanure, slurry, worm castings, peat, seaweed, humic acid, and guano. Sewage sludge use in organic agricultural operations in the U.S. has been extremely limited and rare due to USDA prohibition of the practice (due to toxic metal accumulation, among other factors).

    Processed organic fertilizers include compost, bloodmeal, bone meal, humic acid, amino acids, and seaweed extracts. Other examples are natural enzyme digested proteins, fish meal, and feather meal. Decomposing crop residue (green manure) from prior years is another source of fertility.

    Discussion of the term 'organic'

    There used to be a distinction between the term "organic" and the term "pesticide free". Organic simply dealt with the use of fertilizer types. Once the term "organic" became regulated, many other factors were added. "Pesticide-free" is not at all related to fertilization (plant nutrition), but has become a legal inclusion.

    Likewise, in scientific terms, a fish emulsion can be a good organic fertilizer :), but in some jurisdictions fish emulsion must be certified "dolphin safe" to be considered "organic".

    Natural sourcing

    Animal-sourced Urea and Urea-Formaldehyde (from urine), are suitable for application organic agriculture, while pure synthetic forms are not deemed, however, pure (synthetically-produced) urea is not. The common thread that can be seen through these examples is that organic agriculture attempts to define itself through minimal processing (e.g. via chemical energy such as petroleum—see Haber process), as well as being naturally-occurring or via natural biological processes such as composting.

    Cover crops are also grown to enrich soil as a green manure through nitrogen fixation from the atmosphere; as well as phosphorus (through nutrient mobilization) content of soils.

    Powdered limestone, mined rock phosphate and Chilean saltpeter, are inorganic chemicals in the technical (organic chemistry) sense of the word, but are considered suitable for organic agriculture in limited amounts..

    Advantages

    Although the density of nutrients in organic material is comparatively modest, they have many advantages. The majority of nitrogen supplying organic fertilizers contain insoluble nitrogen and act as a slow-release fertilizer. By their nature, organic fertilizers increase physical and biological nutrient storage mechanisms in soils, mitigating risks of over-fertilization. Organic fertilizer nutrient content, solubility, and nutrient release rates are typically much lower than mineral (inorganic) fertilizers. A University of North Carolina study found that potential mineralizable nitrogen (PMN) in the soil was 182–285% higher in organic mulched systems, than in the synthetics control.

    Organic fertilizers also re-emphasize the role of humus and other organic components of soil, which are believed to play several important roles:

    • Mobilizing existing soil nutrients, so that good growth is achieved with lower nutrient densities while wasting less
    • Releasing nutrients at a slower, more consistent rate, helping to avoid a boom-and-bust pattern
    • Helping to retain soil moisture, reducing the stress due to temporary moisture stress
    • Improving the soil structure
    • Helping to prevent topsoil erosion (responsible for desertfication and the Dust bowl

    Organic fertilizers also have the advantage of avoiding certain problems associated with the regular heavy use of artificial fertilizers:

    • The necessity of reapplying artificial fertilizers regularly (and perhaps in increasing quantities) to maintain fertility
    • Extensive runoff of soluble nitrogen and phosphorus, leading to eutrophication of bodies of water (which causes fish kills)
    • Costs are lower for if fertilizer is locally available

    According to the PPI institute website, it is widely thought that organic fertilizer is better than inorganic fertilizer. However, balanced responsible use of either or both can be just as good for the soil.

    Disadvantages

    Organic fertilizers have the following disadvantages:

    • As a dilute source of nutrients when compared to inorganic fertilizers, transporting large amount of fertilizer incurs higher costs, especially with slurry and manure.
    • The composition of organic fertilizers tends to be more complex and variable than a standardized inorganic product.
    • Improperly-processed organic fertilizers may contain pathogens from plant or animal matter that are harmful to humans or plants. However, proper composting should remove them.
    • More labor is needed to compost organic fertilizer, increasing labor costs. Some of this cost is offset by reduced cash purchase.

    Conventional farming application

    In non-organic farming a compromise between the use of artificial and organic fertilizers is common, often using inorganic fertilizers supplemented with the application of organics that are readily available such as the

    Internal fertilization

    In mammals, internal fertilization is done through copulation, which involves the insertion of the penis into the vagina. Some other higher vertebrate animals (most reptiles, most birds, and some fish) reproduce internally, but their fertilization is cloacal.

    The union of spermatozoa of the parent organism. At some point, the growing egg or offspring must be expelled. There are three general ways of doing this:

    • Oviparous organisms, including most insects and reptiles, monotremes, and all birds lay eggs that continue to develop after being laid, and hatch later.
    • Viviparousorganisms, including almost all mammals (such aswhales, kangaroos and humans) bear their young live. The developing young spend proportionately more time within the female's reproductive tract. The young are later released to survive on their own, with varying amounts of help from the parent (s) on the species.
    • Ovoviviparous organisms, like the garter snake, and the Madagascar hissing cockroach, have eggs (with shells) that hatch as they are laid, making it look like "live birth".

    Most species of land animals reproduce by internal fertilization. For example: All reptiles, such as the snake and turtle reproduce by internal fertilizations. Males and females usually have an opening called the cloaca through which semen, urin and feces can be released. During mating, the male and female join their cloacas. The male releases semen into the female's cloaca. The spermatozoe then travel up a canal to reach the ova.



    From Yahoo Answers

    Question:What's the deal with organic fertilizer Vs inorganic fertilizer? I'm busy with a project so if you could give me any info about them that I can put in a table to compare the two, that would be great! However what I really need is to know which one is slow reacting (Like it takes long for the nutrients to break down or something like that) and is that good or a bad thing? I really appreciate your help

    Answers:Speed, longevity and side benefits distinguish organic and inorganic. Organic: Considered to be a slower release fertilizing agent. Manure and grass clippings need to break down before the plant can use it so it is not available to the plant right away. However, it is a longer term fertilizer. Till in a bunch or organic matter and plant away. Side benefit of organic is increased soil tilith - the ability of the soil to hold and release water usefully, and increase the likelihood that whatever nutrition the soil has will be taken in by the plant. We have all seen potted plants that when watered only have the water drive down the edge of the pot and not soak in the soil. That is poor tilth. Inorganic: Man made. Pellets, granules, sprays, usually marked as having a certain amount of NPK. Inorganic is generally a faster release. That can be important if your plant is suffering. Side benefit to Inorganic: Only needs to be applied when the plant needs it. When germinating seeds, we don't need it because the seed has its own food stores. When the seedling gets its second set of leaves, it does need the fertilizer. Negative to Inorganic: The soil stays poor. It does not, generally, improve tilth, so Inorganic needs to be applied again during the growing season and every year. Inorganic tends to cost money. Organic, well, everyone is dying to give away horse manure and grass clippings. Free, free, free. Inorganic is easy to apply. Simply toss broadcast and you are done. Organic requires labor. I've dug in 10 yards of horse manure before and it is a big job. Sorry for the length. I hope I got to the point in there somewhere.

    Question:

    Answers:The main difference is that organic fertilizers contain the substances that when degraded will nourish the soil with what has been depleted over the seasons. The organic fertilizer's composition comes from the soil and returns to the soil. Inorganic nitrate fertilizers contain many salts that are retain by the soil and if you use the fertilizers over and over again the salts will build up in the soil and make it less and less capable of growing crops.

    Question:Why the boiling point and melting point of MgO (3600,2852) is higher than the boiling point and melting point of Al2O3 (2980,2027)? If we explain in term of lattice energy, should not that it happens inversely because the Al3+ have higher charger than Mg2+?? Other factors involved? and the atomic mass should be increase as the atomic number increase BUT why Ni have a lower atomic mass(58.7) than Co (58.9) while Co have atomic number of 27 and Ni have atomic number of 28?

    Answers:I'll just give the answer to the second question, since the first one's been explained already. The elements nickel and cobalt both have isotopes (like many other elements )and the relative atomic mass of these two elements is calculated by the AVERAGE of all their isotopes present - considering the relative percentage abundance of the isotopes. Isotopes differ in the number of neutrons. Hence, an isotope with a greater mass number will have more number of neutrons than the one which has a lower mass number. It is therefore possible that cobalt has a more percentage abundance of that isotope which is heavier (i.e. having more number of neutrons) and by calculation, its relative atomic mass is found to be more (58.9). For nickel, therefore, it is possible that it has more percentage abundance of the the lighter isotope (having less neutrons) and less of the heavier isotope, so that when calculating, the relative atomic mass is found to be less that cobalt. Another example of this is between argon and potassium. Potassium has a bigger atomic number than argon but smaller atomic mass.

    Question:example: what is the effect of melamine in our body? example2: what is the difference between using artificial fertilizer and organic fertilizer.... i want some other topics besides these two examples

    Answers:wow, we have the same prob. are u from sacred heart?