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Farm Tips on – Know Your Fertilizers

Organic Fertilizer
The Organic fertilizer is the kind, that most of us think when it comes to fertilizers. Remember that fertilizers are productive when the soil itself has been first amended, or mixed with the correct quantity and quality of nutrients soli is lacking in order to grow a particular product.Once it determined what kind of crop has to be produced, it is must examine the soil in that area to decide what amendments should be made before adding fertilizer to it. Organic materials stimulate microbes to work on the soil and they break it down slowly, releasing the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into the soil gradually. Soil amendments are made by adding fertilizer to the soil but there are many types of organic fertilizers such as cow manure, bat guano, bone meal, green manure crops, Fish, manure, seaweed, organic compost and mushroom compost are all good examples of organic fertilizer.
Bio-fertilizers Fertilizer
Biofertilizers are defined as preparations containing living cells or latent cells of efficient strains of microorganisms that help crop plants’ uptake of nutrients by their interactions in the rhizosphere when applied through seed or soil. They accelerate certain microbial processes in the soil which augment the extent of availability of nutrients in a form easily assimilated by plants.Very often microorganisms are not as efficient in natural surroundings as one would expect them to be and therefore artificially multiplied cultures of efficient selected microorganisms play a vital role in accelerating the microbial processes in soil.Use of bio fertilizers is one of the important components of integrated nutrient management, as they are cost effective and renewable source of plant nutrients to supplement the chemical fertilizers for sustainable agriculture few examples are Azotobacter, Bacillus sp, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Azospirillum, Penicillium s, Phosphate solubilizing Bacteria.
Inorganic or synthetic fertilizer
There are another form fertilizer, chemical fertilizer which is also referred to as inorganic fertilizer and is made up with different formulations to suit a variety of specific uses and to crop benefits. One advantage listed for inorganic fertilizers, which are produced as chemicals and are available in granular, powder, or liquid form, is that chemicals are generally lighter and easier to transport than their organic counterpart specially in Himachal Pradesh or any other hilly area in the country mostly northeast. In addition, these fertilizers are mixed in the correct proportions and are ready to apply immediately, as well as being readily available to fill a demand that cannot be completely satisfied by limited organic resources. Synthetic fertilizers have the same elements as organic fertilizers, but they come from different sources. Sodium nitrate and superphosphates are among the common sources of the elements necessary for fertilization. We recommend always follow manufacturer’s directions for application of chemical fertilizer, especially around plants with edible crops. Many private agencies, governments and agricultural departments are putting great effort to increase the supply of organic fertilizers, such as bulky organic manures and composting materials, there is just not enough of these fertilizers available to meet the existing and future fertilizer needs also the infrastructure is not supporting it due to geographical issues. Compared to organic compost, chemical or inorganic fertilizers also have the added advantage of being less bulky, it makes easier to transport, from the soil into the plants itself, because they get to be available to the plant relatively quickly when incorporated as part of the plant-food constituents. Chemical fertilizer usually comes in either granular or powder form in bags and boxes, or in liquid formulations in bottles.

Fertilizers primarily supply three major nutrients to the soil. They are – Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). That is why they are commonly referred to as NPK fertilizers.

Fertilizer is divided into different groups according to the manner in which the Nitrogen combines with other elements. Elements groups are:

Ammonium Sulphate & ammonium salts,
Sodium Nitrates,
Chemical compounds that contain Nitrogen in amide form,
Animal and plant by product

Proper knowledge and experience of Harvesting
From the future economic survival, all apple growers must learn to harvest efficiently, and to preserve quality and give quality. A grower should be a keen observer and be personally aware of his/her total harvesting and handling system without it quality suffers and grower won’t get a good price. Most apple growers are aware of the present high marketing standards and can produce quality fruit, but the most successful growers will be those who can maintain that quality throughout the harvesting and can handle fruits till it reaches the market.
Sodium Nitrates
Sodium Nitrates is also known as Chilates or Chilean nitrate. The Nitrogen contained in Sodium Nitrate is refined and amounts to 16% max. It makes sure that the Nitrogen is immediately available to plants and is a valuable source of Nitrogen in a type of fertilizer. When one makes a soil amendment using Sodium Nitrates as a type of fertilizer in the farm. Particularly when fertilizing young plants, vegetables and trees. The soil that is acidic Sodium Nitrate is very useful as a type of fertilizer and can be useful for the plant. But it should be kept in mind, the excess use of Sodium Nitrate may cause deflocculation.
Ammonium Sulphate
Comes in a white crystalline salt form, containing 20 to 21% ammonia cal nitrogen. It is easy to handle and it stores well under dry conditions. However, during the monsoon season, it sometimes, forms lumps. (WE RECOMMEND: When these lumps do occur it should be grinded to a powdered form before using.) This fertilizer type is soluble in water, its nitrogen is not readily lost in drainage, because the ammonium ion is retained by the soil particles. CAUTION: Ammonium sulphate may have an acid effect on soil. Over time, the long-continued use of this type of fertilizer will increase soil acidity and can lower the yield. (WE RECOMMEND: It is recommended to use this fertilizer type together with a good quantity of organic manures to safeguard against the ill effects of ammonium sulphate).

The application of Ammonium sulphate fertilizer can be done before sowing, especially in the case of vegetables or grains, or even as a topdressing to the growing crop(quantity recommended by manufacturer).

Ammonium Nitrate
This fertilizer, also comes in white crystalline salts. Ammonium Nitrate salts contain 33 to 35% nitrogen, of which half is nitrate nitrogen and rest half in the ammonium form. As part of ammonium form, this fertilizer cannot be easily leached from the soil. This fertilizer is fast reacting, but highly hygroscopic thus making it unfit for long storage. (WE RECOMMEND: Coagulation and Granulation of this fertilizer can be combated with a light coating of the granules with oil). CAUTION: Ammonium Nitrate also has an acid effect on the soil, in addition this type of fertilizer can be explosive under certain conditions, it should stored and used with care.
Ammonium Sulphate Nitrate
Is available as a mixture of ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulphate and is recognized as a white crystal or as white granules. This fertilizer contains 26% nitrogen, three-fourths of it in the ammoniac form and the rest (i.e. 6.5%) as nitrate nitrogen. Ammonium Sulphate Nitrate is non-explosive, readily soluble in water and is very quick-reacting, it is very useful for all crops also render garden soil acidic, the acidifying effects is only one-half of that of ammonium sulphate on the soil. Application of this fertilizer type can be done before sowing vegetables,seeds etc at sowing time or as a topdressing, but it should not be applied along with the seeds.
Ammonium Chloride
A white crystalline compound, which contains a good physical condition and 26% ammoniac nitrogen. Generally , Ammonium Chloride is similar to ammonium sulphate in action. (WE RECOMMEND: Do not use this type of fertilizer on crops such as tomatoes because the chorine may harm your crop.)
It is rich in nitrogen content. When applied to soil the nitrogen present in it gets converted into ammonia. It readily dissolves in water and is capable of showing quick results. It is found in the form of granules or pellets and is white in color . Due to its tendency to absorb moisture from the air, it is often coated with a thin layer of non-hygroscopic material. Normally, it is applied during the sowing time in few crops sprayed on the leaves. Care should be taken that it does not make physical contact with the seeds.
Is a gas that is made up of about 80% of nitrogen and comes in a liquid form as well because under the right conditions regarding temperature and pressure, Ammonia becomes liquid (anhydrous ammonia). Another form, ‘aqueous ammonia’, results from the absorption of Ammonia gas into water, in which it is soluble. Ammonia is used as a fertilizer in both forms. The anhydrous liquid form of Ammonia can be applied by introducing it into irrigation water, or directly into the soil from special containers.This fertilizer is expensive and difficult to handle and store.
Organic Nitrogenous Fertilizers
Organic Nitrogenous fertilizer is the type of fertilizer that includes plant and animal by-products. These by-products can be anything from such as cow manure, bat guano, bone meal, green manure crops, Fish, manure, seaweed etc. The Nitrogen available in organic nitrogenous fertilizer types first has to be converted before the plants can use it. This conversion occurs through bacterial action and is thus a slow process. The upside of this situation is that the supply of available nitrogen lasts so much longer AND the amounts of this type of fertilizer may contain small amounts of organic stimulants that contain other minor elements that might also be needed by the plants that are being fertilized. Oil-cakes contain not only nitrogen but also some phosphoric and potash, besides a large quantity of organic matter. This type of fertilizer is used in conjunction with quicker-acting chemical fertilizers.

Then there is also blood meal which contains 10 to 12% highly available Nitrogen as well as 1 to 2% Phosphoric acid. Blood meal, used in much the same way as oil-cake, makes for a quick remedy and can effectively be used on all types of soil as a type of fertilizer.

Fish meal which can be dried fish, fish-meal or even powder is extracted in areas where fish oil is extracted. The resulting residue is used as a fertilizer type. Obviously depending on the type of fish used, the available Nitrogen can be between 5 and 8% and the Phosphoric content can be from 4 to 6%. Fish meal also constitutes a fast-acting fertilizer type which is suitable for most soil types and crops. (WE RECOMMEND: In powder form it is at its best, and should be properly stored.)

Phosphate fertilizers are categorized as natural phosphates, either treated or processed, and also byproducts of phosphates and chemical phosphates.
Rock Phosphate
Rock phosphate occurs as natural deposits in some countries. This fertilizer type has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that with adequate rainfall this fertilizer results in a long growing period which can enhance crops. Powdered phosphate fertilizer is an excellent remedy for soils that are acidic and has a phosphorous deficiency and requires soil amendments.

The disadvantage is that although phosphate fertilizer such as rock phosphate contains 25 to 35% phosphoric acid, the phosphorous is insoluble in water. It has to be pulverized to be used as a type of fertilizer before rendering satisfactory results in soil. Rock Phosphate is used to manufacture superphosphate which makes the Phosphoric acid water soluble.

Basic slag is a by-product of steel mills and is used as a fertilizer to a lesser extent than Superphosphate. Slag is an excellent fertilizer that can be used to amend soils that are acidic because of its alkaline reaction. For a slag application to be an effective fertilizer it has to be pulverized first.
Bone-meal is used as a phosphate fertilizer type and is available in two types: raw and steamed. The raw bone-meal contains 4% organic Nitrogen that is slow acting, and 20 to 25% phosphoric acid that is not soluble in water. The steamed bone-meal on the other hand has all the fats, greases, nitrogen and glue-making substances removed as a result of high pressure steaming. It is brittle and can be ground into a powder form. In powder form this fertilizer is of great advantage to the farmer in that the rate of availability of the phosphoric acid depends on its pulverization. This fertilizer is particularly suitable as a soil amendment for acid soil and should be applied either at sowing time or even a few days prior to sowing. (WE RECOMMEND: Bone-meal is slow acting and should be incorporated into the soil )
Superphosphate is a fertilizer type that most farmers are familiar with. Superphosphate fertilizer are in three different grades, depending on the manufacturing process there can be more. The following is a short description of the fertilizer grades:

Single superphosphate containing 16 to 20% phosphoric acid;
Dicalcium phosphate containing 35 to 38% phosphoric acid; and
Triple superphosphate containing 44 to 49% phosphoric acid.(Mostly Concentrated mixed fertilizer types)

The advantage of using Superphosphate as a fertilizer is that the phosphoric acid is fully water soluble, but when Superphosphate is applied to the soil, it is converted into soluble phosphate. This is due to precipitation as calcium, iron or aluminum phosphate, which is dependent on the soil type to which the fertilizer is added, be it alkaline or acidic garden soil. All soil types can benefit from the application of Superphosphate as a fertilizer. It is used in conjunction with an organic fertilizer and should be applied at sowing or transplant time.

Potassium fertilizer should only be added to soil when there is absolute certainty that there is a Potassium deficiency. Sandy soil responds well to the application of Potassium fertilizers. Crops such as chilies, potato and fruit trees improves the quality and appearance of the product by the application. Types of potassium fertilizers are:

Potassium chloride (Muriate of potash ) and
Potassium sulphate (Sulphate of potash).
Both of potassium are salts that make up part of the waters of the oceans and inland saline deposits.

Muriate Of Potash
Muriate of potash is a gray crystal type of fertilizer that consists of 50 to 60% potash. All the potash in this fertilizer type is readily available to plants because it is highly soluble in water. Even so, it does not leach away deep into the soil since the potash is absorbed on the colloidal surfaces. (WE RECOMMEND: Apply muriate of potash at sowing time or prior to sowing.)

Sulphate Of Potash
Sulphate of potash is a fertilizer type manufactured when potassium chloride is treated with magnesium sulphate. It dissolves readily in water and can be applied to the garden soil at any time up to sowing. Some gardeners prefer using sulphate of potash over muriate of potash.

Different fertilizers, its specifications and cautions that should be kept in mind, to make it easier for most farmers and our efforts is dedicated to the farmers and growing community.

Inorganic and organic fertilizers that are usually commercially available every state of the country
Inorganic fertilizers: contain all three major macro-nutrients, Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K).
On the containers you will find that these macro-nutrients are depicted as a ratio, e.g. 2:3:2 (22). Complete inorganic fertilizers are usually applied at a rate of 60g/m2 or roughly 4 tablespoons per square meter.

Special fertilizer:
These types of fertilizer are formulated especially to target certain plants’ requirements or certain soil deficiencies, they are developed with a purpose. Fertilizers in Liquid Form:
These types of fertilizer come in a variety of formulations and even include organic fertilizer, complete fertilizer as well as special fertilizer. Fertilizers with Slow-release effect:
These types of fertilizer are formulated to release their nitrogen at a steady pace. On the packs of this fertilizer that are available commercially it will usually be depicted as 3:1:5 (SR) where the SR indicates slow-release. Fertilizer added insecticide (Combo-fertilizers):
These types of fertilizer that are prepared and combined with an insecticide. There are many different types of chemical fertilizers in different formulations reason is because different plants require different nutrients at different pH levels in the soil. Organic fertilizers have more diversity, and these types of fertilizers do not burn plant roots, get into ground water, or affect surrounding growth as is the case of using the different types of chemical fertilizer and NPK.

Fertilizer and ways to apply
In this section it is about applying the different types of fertilizers and when is the best time to apply fertilizer that soil require. In reference to organic manures and other organic fertilizer, would serve if it is applied ahead of sowing time. Reason is simple it would be that the preliminary decomposition can then take place prior to the seeds germinating. If neglected to fertilize prior to sowing or due to lack of time , then it should be applied any time after the seedlings have established themselves. (WE RECOMMEND: Best to user fertilizer in the powder form with supply of good moisture).

If you want to make use of inorganic fertilizer and fertilizer types that include the Potassic and Phosphatic fertilizers, then the best time to apply the fertilizer is before sowing or transplanting the seedlings.In Nitrogenous fertilizers case, you can feel free to apply the fertilizer at planting and even slightly after planting time, nitrogenous fertilizers gives advantages in heavy rainfall areas.

NPK ratio should be checked whenever applying it to the soil, before applying please read the manufacturer’s instruction.
Leaves and shoots
Stems and roots
Flowers and fruit
The NPK ratio is then read as follows:
Leaves & shoots : stems & roots : flowers & fruits.

Fertilizer bags and containers also provide ample instructions on the best ways in which to apply the particular fertilizer. Following is a general guide on the application of different types of chemical or inorganic fertilizer.

Liquid fertilizer is usually concentrated. They need to be mixed or dissolved in water before application to the intended plants. When properly diluted you also negate the chances of fertilizer burn. Properly diluted liquid fertilizer is ideal for use on soft, sensitive and young plants.
Mixing and application of liquid fertilizer
Liquid fertilizer is easy to apply – simply mix the required amount into a watering can or bucket filled with water. (WE RECOMMEND: Add the fertilizer concentrate directly to the water.) Water the plant with the mixture and do remember that the fertilizer will be more easily absorbed if the soil is moist. You can also use liquid fertilizer as foliar spray. This liquid fertilizer is then sprayed on the leaves, the fertilizer will be absorbed through the leaves. (WE RECOMMEND: Only foliar feed if the instructions on the container indicate so and please read instructions).
Granular fertilizer can be used in its dry form sprinkled on the soil around the intended plants and cover it with soil. If using on vegetable it should be irrigated to avoid chemical burn. Using granular fertilizer is a trifle more complicated than using liquid fertilizer because it has to be covered. In many cases gardeners would just scatter a handful or so around each plant and hope that it will suffice. This brings on problems like plant burns and even overfed plants, or alternatively not applying enough fertilizer for the size of the plant.

Mixing and application of granular fertilizer
The instruction that you will find on the fertilizer container or bag will indicate the amount (in grams or ounce) that should be applied to a square meter. It sounds easy enough, but it can be difficult to apply this dosage in a garden. Say for instance the recommended dosage is 60g per m2. First you need a 60g measuring cup. No problem. Take a cap, say the plastic cap of an empty aerosol spray (a deodorant cap will do fine) and place it on a kitchen scale. Fill it with fertilizer until it weighs 60g. Shake the cap to level the fertilizer in the cap. Then take a marker and mark the level. Empty the fertilizer back into the fertilizer container. Now take a strong pair of scissors and cut along the line that you marked. Voila – now you have your 60g measuring cup. (WE RECOMMEND: Write on the cup the name of the type of fertilizer and the gram measurement for next time.) You will also find that each type of fertilizer has its own dose rate and weight. You will thus need a measuring cup for each of the different types of fertilizer.

When actually applying the granular fertilizer you need to gauge an approximate square meter either by pacing or by cutting a thin stick or bamboo stake to 1 meter in length. Then sprinkle the full measuring cup evenly over the whole area that you gauged as 1 square meter. When fertilizing trees or large shrubs you need to sprinkle the fertilizer over the whole drip area even if it happens to be over the grass. The roots of plants grow away from the trunk; and the fine hair root are usually those furthest away from the base of the tree or shrub. These fine hair roots are the ones responsible for feeding the tree or shrub. Heavy handfuls of fertilizer near the base of the tree or shrub can damage the root system by burning it. (WE RECOMMEND: Use the measuring cup and stake method to apply lawn fertilizer as well.)

Apply tree fertilizer directly onto the surface of the soil by scattering a dry fertilizer in about a 2.5 feet circle around the base of the mature tree trunk of newly planted tree it should be 12 inches. If the tree is very big, then expand the area to cover with fertilizer in a circular pattern directly underneath the outer edges of the tree foliage. Water the area thoroughly to help the fertilizer dissolve and soak into the root area of the tree to be absorbed. Over-watering will only dilute the fertilizer, if water not available it should be covered with soil.

Fertilizers can also be applied by Spraying the leaves or foliage of the tree directly. With power sprayer, the liquid fertilizer can be directly applied by spraying on the leaves of the tree taking temperature into consideration. The leaves will absorb the water mixed with the fertilizer nutrients to give the tree the nourishment it needs.

Fertilizers should preferably be applied before sowing if applying for vegetables, best time when the soil is prepared for sowing.

All fertilizers that contain soluble phosphates should preferably be applied in wide bands of between 2.5 and 5 cm on each side of the rows of seeds at a depth of 10 to 15 cm, for nursery and in vegetables.

The superphosphate fertilizer should preferably be mixed with farmyard manure (in particular organic manure works excellent.)

(WE RECOMMEND : for more information please visit PLANT CARE page)