About Fertilizers

Introduction
Fertiliser is generally defined as "any material, organic or inorganic, natural or synthetic, which supplies one or more of the chemical elements required for the plant growth". Sixteen elements are identified as essential elements for plant growth, of which nine are required in macro quantities and seven in micro quantities. Table 1.1 - Essential elements for plant growth No. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. Name of element Carbon Oxygen Hydrogen Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium Calcium Magnesium Sulphur Boron Chlorine Copper Iron Maganese Molybdenum Zinc Mocro nutrients Secondary nutrients Primary nutrients Nomenclature

Note: As per the Fertiliser Control Order (FCO) 'fertiliser' means any substance used or intended to be used as a fertilisers of the soil and/ or crop and specified in part A of Schedule I and includes a mixture of fertilisers and special mixture of fertilisers. Primary nutrients are normally supplied through chemical fertilisers. They are chemical compounds containing one or more of the primary nutrients and are generally produced by chemical reactions. Whatever may be the chemical compounds, its most important ingredi nt e for plant growth is the nutrient content. The primary nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium; however, their concentration in a chemical fertiliser is expressed as a percentage of total nitrogen (N), available phosphate (P2O5) and soluble (K2O). Thus, ammonium sulphate contains 20.6 per cent N; single superphosphate 16 per cent P2O5 and muriate of potash 60 per cent K2O. The grade of a fertiliser is expressed as a set of three numbers in the order of per cent N, P2O5 and K2O. If a nutrient is missing in a fertiliser, it is represented by a zero. Thus ammonium sulphate is represented as 20.6-0-0 (since it does not contain phosphorus and potassium), single superphosphate as 0-16-0 (as it does not contain nitrogen and potash), muriate of potash as 0-0-60 ( as it does not contain nitrogen or phosphorus). When a fertiliser contains more than one nutrient, for example diammonium phosphate, it is shown as 18 -46-0, indicating that it contains 18 per cent of nitrogen, 46 per cent of P2O5 and no potash. Similarly, "Suphala", a nitrophosphate fertiliser produced by RCF, Trombay, is shown as 15 -15-15 indicating that the product contains 15 per cent N, 15 per cent P2O5 and 15 per cent K2O.

Nutrient Content of Fertilisers
The primary nutrients supplied by fertilisers are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Their concentration in a fertiliser is expressed as percentage of N, P2O5 and K2O. In the case of nitrogenous fertilisers, nitrogen may be in the ammoniacal, nitrate (or a combination thereof) or amide form. Ammoniacal form of nitrogen is contained in fertilisers like ammonium Sulphate, ammonium chloride, etc. Nitrate nitrogen is contained in fertilisers like ammonium nitrate, calcium ammonium nitrate, etc. The amide nitrogen is contained in urea. Phosphate present in phosphatic fertilisers may be in the water soluble form or citrate soluble form. That portion of phosphate which is soluble in water is called water soluble phosphate and that which is not soluble in water but in 2 per cent neutral ammonium citrate solution is called citrate soluble phosphate. The sum of water soluble and citrate soluble values is termed as available phosphates. The portion of phosphate which is neither soluble in water nor in 2 per cent neutral ammonium citrate solutions is termed insoluble. The sum of the available phosphate and insoluble phosphate is termed as total phosphate.

In Table 1.2 (a & b), nutrient contents of fertilisers mostly used in India are given. The figures are in percentage of nutrient in the various fertilisers and correspond to those in the Fertiliser (Control) Order. Table 1.2(a) - Nutrient Content of Solid Fertilisers (Per cent by wt. min.) Material Total Nitroge n (N) Ammoniac al nitrogen (N) Nitroge n Nitrate (N) Nitroge n in form of urea (amide) (N) (5) Neutral ammoniu m citrate soluble phosphat e (P2O 5) (6) Water soluble phosphat e (P2O 5) Water solubl e potas h (K2O) (8)

(1) I 1. 2. 3.

(2)

(3)

(4)

(7)

Nitrogenous fertilisers Ammonium Sulphate Ammonium chloride Calcium Ammonium Nitrate Calcium Ammonium Nitrate Calcium Nitrate Urea 20.6 25.0 20.6 25.0 12.5(ma x) 13.0(ma x) 14.4 46.0

25.0

12.5

4.

26.0 15.5 46.0

13.0 1.1(max)

5. 6. II 7.

Phosphatic fertilisers SSP 14% SSP 16% 14.0 16.0 18.0

8.

Rock Phosphate (powder/granul ar) Potassic fertilisets

II

I 9. Potassium chloride (powder/granul ar)

60.0

10 Potassium . Sulphate 11 Potassium . Magnesium Sulphate 12 Potassium . Schoenite IV Complex fertilisers 13 Ammonium . Phosphate 11-52-0 1846-0 14 Ammonium . Phosphate Sulphate 16-20-0 20-20-0 18-9-0 15 Ammonium . Phosphate Sulphate Nitrate 20.0 20-20-0 16 Nitrophosphate . 20-20-0 23-23-0 17 Ammonium . Nitrate Phosphate 23.0 23-23-0 13.0 10.0(ma x) 23.0 20.5 20.0 23.0 10.0 11.5 11.5(ma x) 10.0(ma x) 23.0 23.0 12.0 18.5 16.0 20.0 18.0 16.0 18.0 18.0 20.0 2.0(max) 20.0 9.0 19.5 17.0 8.5 11.0 18.0 11.0 15.5 52.0 2.5(max) 46.0 44.2 41.0

50.0

22.0

23.0

17.0

3.0(max)

20.0

17.0

18 Urea . Ammonium Phosphate 28.0 28-28-0 24.0 24-24-0 20.0 20-20-0 19 Potassium . Nitrate 13.0 13.0 45.0 6.4 7.5 16.5(ma x) 24.0 20.0 20.4 17.0 9.0 28.0 25.2

(cystalline/prille d) (13-0-45) 20 Mono Potassium . Phosphate (0-52-34) 21 NPK fertilisers . 15.0. 15-15-15 10.0 10-26-26 12.0 12-32-16 22.0 22-22-11 14.0 14-35-14 17.0 17-17-17 14.0 14-28-14 19.0 19-19-19 17.0 17-17-17 20.0 20-10-10 3.9 17.1(ma x) 10.0 8.5 10.0 8.5 5.6 8.5 13.4(ma x) 19.0 17.0 16.2 13.6 19.0 17.0 8.0 6.0(max) 28.0 23.8 14.0 5.0 12.0(ma x) 35.0 17.0 29.0 14.5 14.0 17.0 7.0 9.0 15.0(ma x) 32.0 22.0 27.2 18.7 16.0 11.0 7.0 3.0(max) 26.0 22.1 26.0 7.5 7.5 3.0(max) 15.0 4.0 15.0 52.0 34.0

Table 1.2(b) - Nutrient Content of Liquid Fertilisers (Per cent by wt. min.) Material Total Nitrog en (N) Ammonia Nitrog Urea Total Poly Maganesium(M cal en Nitroge phospha phospha gO) nitrogen Nitrate n te te (N) (N) (P2O5) (P2O5) (N) 7.7 7.7 16.6(ma x)

1 Urea . Ammonium Nitrate 2 Superphosph . oric Acid

32.0

70.0

18.9

0.5(max)

3 Ammonium . Polyphosphat 10.0 e

10.0

34.0

22.1

0.5(max)

Secondary Nutrients
Calcium, magnesium and sulphur are called the secondary nutrients. It is required for plant growth in relatively smaller quantities than primary nutrients. Any deficiency of the secondary nutrients and other essential elements reduce the efficiency of primary nutrient by restricting the yield to low levels. Therefore, to obtain optimum results, crops have to be supplied with secondary nutrient in addition to primary nutrients. Calcium Sulphate (gypsum) is used as source of calcium and sulphur while magnesium is supplied in the form of dolomite, magnesium Sulphate, etc. in fact, magnesium Sulphate (MgSO4) has been incorporated in FCO to contain the spread of magnesium deficient area s.

Micronutrients
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients which are essential for plant growth but are required by plants in small quantities. Intensive cropping deplete all nutrients including micronutrients from the soil at a fast rate. Therefore selective use of micronutrients is necessary for increasing agricultural production. Iron, zinc, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum and chlorine fall under this category. Ten micronutrients namely zinc Sulphate (monohydrate & heptahydrate) manganese Sulphate, borax, solubor, copper Sulphate, ferrous Sulphate, ammonium molybdate, chelated zinc, and chelated iron have been incorporated in the Fertiliser (Control) Order (FCO). Fortified fertilisers like Zincated urea and boronated single superphosphate have also been notified under FCO. Nutrient content of micronutrients fertilisers is listed in Table 1.3. Table 1.3 - Nutrient Contents of Micronutrient Fertilisers SI. No 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Name Zinc Sulphate* Mangnese Sulphate* Ammonium Molybdate Borax(for soil application) Solubor(foilar spray) Copper Sulphate* Ferrous Sulphate* Chelated Zn Chelated Fe Zinc Sulphate monohydrate

Formula ZnSO4.7H2O MnSO4

Element/Forms Zn Mn

Contents(%) 21.0 30.5 52.0 10.5 19.0 24.0 19.5 12.0 12.0 33.0

(NH4)5Mo7)244H2O Mo Na2B4O7.5H2 O Na2B4O7.5H2 O + Na2B10O16.10H2O CuSO4.5H2O FeSO4.7H2O as Zn-EDTA as Fe-EDTA ZnSO4.H2O B B Cu Fe Zn Fe Zn

* Average sulphur content i) ZnSO 4 = 15% ii) MnSO 4 = 17% iii) CuSO 4= 13% iv) FeSO 4 = 19% @ Specification as per FCO Amendment 1987

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