Everything You Need To Know About Fertilisers: Purpose, Types, And Methods Of Application
Fundamentally, fertilisers are substances made of highly concentrated plant nutrients. Fertilisers are sold in the form of granules, pellets, powders, or liquids and help to enhance crop growth and productivity.
Benefits Of Applying Fertilizer To Plants
Fertilisers are beneficial as they enhance the growth of crops. Usually, plants with shorter maturity durations benefit the most from fertiliser application. You do not have to use fertilisers if your soil is fertile and healthy; however, fertiliser application is likely to enhance the flourishing of plants and increase the production of food crops.
The Definition Of Fertilisers
Fertilisers comprise concentrated forms of chemical or organic sources of plant nutrients. Many fertilisers have significant nutritional benefits to plants that are needed in large volumes and traces of elements required in small amounts.
Types Of Fertilisers
The two main types of fertilisers are organic and inorganic fertilisers. Inorganic are artificial fertilisers, while organic fertilisers are made of animal and plant matter.
Inorganic fertilisers are artificial and synthetic sources of plant nutrients or extracts from natural minerals found below the ground. The concentration of plant nutrients is higher in inorganic fertilisers than in organic fertilisers. In addition, inorganic fertilisers are faster-acting than organic fertilisers.
Organic fertilisers are made from animal and plant matter and contain an organic form of plant nutrients. Usually, organic fertilisers are slow acting, mainly because organisms in the soil must first disintegrate the enormous size of organic molecules for nutrients to be available to the plant for absorption.
Some examples of organic fertilisers are hoof and horn, bone meal, fish blood and bone, seaweed, pellets of poultry manure, nettle feeds, or liquid comfrey.
You can find organic and inorganic fertilisers in the products highlighted below:
Compound fertilisers: Compound fertilisers have a combination of different plant nutrients, which could be balanced (having an equal proportion of the primary plant nutrients), or some nutrients could be more than others, depending on the crop type in consideration. Compound fertilisers can be inorganic or organic, or a mix of both.
Straight fertilisers: Straight fertilisers have one major nutrient. Generally, these fertilisers aim to provide different nutrients to crops during varying periods of the year or to address certain nutrient deficiencies. Ordinarily, straight fertilisers are inorganic.
Controlled-release fertilisers: Almost always, these fertilisers are inorganic and come in the form of granules covered with a layer of porous matter like Sulphur or synthetic resin. Water seeps into the granule, and the plant nutrients in the fertiliser leach out into the neighbouring soil. The leaching process is faster when the soil is warmer; this is why plant growth occurs faster in warmer climatic conditions.
Slow-release fertilisers: With the help of microorganisms in the soil, slow-release fertilisers break down rather slowly to release plant nutrients to the neighbouring ground. Generally, slow-release fertilisers are organic and include examples like bone meal and hoof and horn. They are also influenced by the temperature of the soil and, by extension, prevailing weather conditions.
How To Apply Fertilisers
There are numerous ways of applying fertilisers, such as using AdBlue pump for liquid fertilisers. However, the application technique depends highly on the type of fertiliser you use. Below are some regularly used application methods with examples of the right time to use the technique.
Top dressing: Top dressing is appropriate when applying fast-acting fertilisers to the soil surface to enhance crop growth. This fertiliser application technique is commonly used in spring at the beginning of the growing season. Using this method, you must exercise caution to avoid contact with the leaves, which can quickly burn the plant. Also, you must avoid applying fertiliser to avert root damage and groundwater contamination.
Base dressing: This is the application of fertiliser into the lower layers of the soil or putting the compost in pots before planting or sowing.
Watering on: Some fertilisers in liquid form or soluble powders and granules can be dissolved in water and applied to plants around the root section during the growing season to stimulate plant growth. This fertiliser application technique is ideal when dealing with glasshouse crops, potted plants, and bedding. The plant nutrients in these fertilisers are immediately made available to the plants.