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Story of Fertilizers (Notes) (1)

Story of Fertilizers (Notes) (1)

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Published by Naveed Khan

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Published by: Naveed Khan on Mar 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The fundamental requirements of growing plants in soil include
Atmospheric CO
Available Soil Water
Soil O
Mineral Nutrients
Probably the most easiest of the environmental resources for humans to manipulatewould be
The supply of mineral nutrients to the soil
Can be achieved by the judicious use of chemical fertilizers
Soil fertility is the quality of a soil to provide proper nutrient(s) in proper amount andin proper balance with other nutrients for the growth of plants when other growthfactors such as light, humidity, temperature and physical conditions of the soil arefavourable.Soil Fertility is a qualitative term.
Soil productivity is the capability of soil to produce specifiedplant or a sequenceof plants under specified set of management practices. Soil productivity is aquantitative term.
Augeas, a Legendary king of Elisfamous for stable (3000 oxen)
Had not been cleaned 30 years
Contracted Hercules
Agreed 10% of cattle in return
Accomplished the task by turning (River Alpheus)
Carrying away the accumulated filth
Depositing it on the adjacent land
Augeasrefused payment for the service,
where upon a war ensued
Augeaswas put to death
The story of fertilisers started during seventeenth century
when J. B. van Halmont(1644) conducted the first quantitative experiment to know about the mysteryof plant growth.
Planted a 5 pound willow (family Salicaceae, dicotyledenoustrees and shrubs including poplar) plantin an earthenware pot containing 200 lbs. of dry soil, and allowed it to grow for 5 years addingnothing but rain or distilled water.
At the end he found that
The willow tree had gained 169 pounds and about 3 ounces from the same quantity of soil andconcluded that 164 pounds of wood, bark, and roots from water alone.
The concept of humus was given by
Francis Home, 1775 for the nourishment of plants.
Theodore de Saussure, a Frenchman (1767-1845) was the first to report the ash composition ofvarious plant species, and thus laid down the essentiality of plant nutrients.
During 1803-1873, a frenchmanJean-BaptisteBoussignault, father of field plot experimentscalculated the quantities of various elements taken up from the soil by growing plants.
Justus von Liebig, (German organic chemist)
father of agricultural chemistry,
Presented in 1840,
His historic book on “organic chemistry and its applications to Agriculture and physiology”.
His work presented the ‘humus’story
which resulted in wide acceptance of the “mineral theory of fertilisers”and developed the “lawof minimum”
which states that growth of plants is limited by the plant nutrient element present in the smallestrelative amount.
Law of the Minimum -Liebig'sLaw 
Justus von Liebig, generally credited as the "father of the fertilizer industry",formulated the law ofthe minimum: if one crop nutrient is missing or deficient, plantgrowth will be poor, even if the otherelements are abundant.
Liebiglikens the potential of a crop to a barrel with staves of unequal length. The capacity of thisbarrel is limited by the length of the shortest stave (in this case, phosphorus) and can only beincreased by lengthening that stave. When that stave is lengthened, another one becomes thelimiting factor.
Sir John Lawes (1842)
Treated bones with sulfuricacid and began producing a product called superphosphate.
Boosted the yield on many soils.
Then a product called Chilean Nitrate was produced in Chile (south America).
The farmers used this expensive product of N but disappointed due to failure of increase production.
N and P both were needed by the plants.
In 1865, for the first time, potassium was detected in the rock salt mined at Stassfurt(Germany).
This discovery led to the foundation of K industry.
Atmospheric nitrogen is unused and virtually of no use to the plants.
Inexhaustible bounty of nature for the plants is about 89,000 tonnes over every hectare of earth’ssurface.
Conversion of atmospheric N was first achieved in Norway by Birklandand Eydein 1905 and the firstnitrogen fertiliser, calcium nitrate was produced in 1907.
1930s, the use of N fertilisers, superphosphate and potassium fertiliser was widespread.
Pakistan, the use of fertiliser was initiated in 1909 with the establishment of
Punjab Agriculture College and Research Institute at Faisalabad followed by
research stations, Sakrand, Tandojam, Tarnaband Sariab.
In 1948, manurialtrials were conducted by the agricultural chemists.
What was true in Europe in the 19
century is true in many other parts of the world today.
The soils are exhausted of plant nutrients and produce low yield.
The exhaustion is caused by intensive cultivation.
Plant nutrients are all the time being exported from the fields to the villages and towns.
Only a small proportion is returned to the soil. Natural soil processes replenish some nutrients but not enough tomeet the demand of high yielding crop varieties.
Application of fertilisers in one form or another is the only solution to replenish nutrients in the soil.
Response of various crops -N
P deficiency for the first time reported
Soil Fertility Research and Fertilizer Popularization Organization set up under FAO
 –1958 –Mandate
To conduct applied fertilizer experimentation at farmer’s fieldsCreate awareness about the role of N, P, & K in crop production
Nitrogen Fertilizer Introduced in country
Use of Phosphaticfertilizer started
Potassium Fert. Came into market
Fert. Consumption in the beginning
 –Slow –Got boost with –introduction of high yielding cereal varieties

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