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Complete Fertilizer: Benefits, Usage, Disadvantages

by Achim Dobermann
Published: Last Updated on
complete fertilizer

A complete fertilizer is a type of plant nutrient that contains all three of the primary macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These nutrients are essential for plant growth and development, and they are usually applied in the form of fertilizers to provide plants with the nutrients they need to thrive.

Nitrogen is important for the growth of foliage and promotes the production of chlorophyll, which helps plants photosynthesize. Phosphorus is essential for root development and helps plants produce flowers, fruits, and seeds. Potassium is necessary for the proper functioning of plants’ enzymes and helps plants resist disease.

Complete fertilizers are often labeled with three numbers, such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20, which represent the percentage of each nutrient in the product. For example, a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.

Complete fertilizers are typically applied to soil in order to supplement the nutrients that are naturally present or to replace nutrients that have been depleted through plant growth or other factors. They can be applied as a soil amendment before planting or as a side-dress to established plants.

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Benefits of complete fertilizer

There are several benefits to using complete fertilizers:

Balanced nutrition: Complete fertilizers provide plants with a balanced mix of the three primary macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) that they need to grow and thrive. This can help ensure that plants receive the right combination of nutrients to support healthy growth and development.

Improved soil fertility: Complete fertilizers can help improve soil fertility by providing the nutrients that plants need to grow. This can help plants grow stronger and healthier, and it can also improve the overall productivity of the soil.

Benefits of complete fertilizer

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Increased crop yields: By providing plants with the nutrients they need to grow, complete fertilizers can help increase crop yields. This is especially important in agriculture, where increased crop yields can lead to increased profits.

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Ease of use: Complete fertilizers are relatively easy to use and can be applied directly to the soil or as a foliar spray. This makes them a convenient option for farmers and gardeners who want to provide their plants with the nutrients they need to thrive.

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Versatility: Complete fertilizers can be used on a wide range of plants, including vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs. This makes them a versatile option for gardeners and farmers who need to provide nutrients to a variety of plants.

Improved plant health: By providing plants with the nutrients they need to grow, complete fertilizers can help improve plant health. This can result in stronger and more resilient plants that are better able to withstand stress and disease.

Enhanced aesthetic value: By promoting healthy plant growth, complete fertilizers can help improve the aesthetic value of gardens, lawns, and other landscaped areas.

Environmental benefits: When used correctly, complete fertilizers can help improve soil fertility and reduce the need for synthetic chemical fertilizers. This can have a positive impact on the environment, as synthetic chemical fertilizers can contribute to soil degradation and pollution.

How often should I apply complete fertilizer?

There are many different types of complete fertilizers available, including organic and synthetic versions. It is important to choose the right type of fertilizer for your plants based on their specific nutrient needs and the type of soil in which they are grown. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fertilizers to avoid over-fertilization, which can harm plants and the environment.

How often should I apply complete fertilizer

The frequency of fertilizer application will depend on a number of factors, including the type of plants you are growing, the type of soil in which they are grown, the climate and weather conditions, and the specific nutrient needs of your plants.

In general, it is recommended to apply complete fertilizers according to the following guidelines:

  • For annual plants (plants that grow and complete their life cycle in one growing season), it is generally recommended to apply complete fertilizers every 2-4 weeks during the growing season.
  • For perennial plants (plants that grow and live for more than two years), it is generally recommended to apply complete fertilizers every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.
  • For trees and shrubs, it is generally recommended to apply complete fertilizers every 6-8 weeks during the growing season.
  • For container plants, it is generally recommended to apply complete fertilizers every 2-4 weeks, as the soil in containers can become depleted more quickly.

How to apply complete fertilizers

Here are some general guidelines for applying complete fertilizers:

Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions: Each type of complete fertilizer may have specific application instructions, so it is important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Determine the nutrient needs of your plants: Different plants have different nutrient needs, so it is important to determine the specific nutrient requirements of your plants before applying fertilizers.

How to apply complete fertilizers

Test the soil: It is a good idea to test the soil before applying fertilizers to determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. This can help you determine the appropriate application rate and avoid over-fertilization.

Calculate the application rate: The application rate of complete fertilizers will depend on the nutrient needs of your plants and the nutrient levels of the soil. It is important to calculate the appropriate application rate to avoid over-fertilization.

Apply the fertilizer: There are several ways to apply complete fertilizers, including as a soil amendment before planting or as a side-dress to established plants. It is also possible to apply fertilizers as a foliar spray, although this is not as common.

Water the plants: It is important to water the plants after applying fertilizers to help dissolve the nutrients and make them available to the plants.

Evidence on complete fertilizer

There is a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of complete fertilizers in promoting healthy plant growth and development.

For example, a study published in the journal “Agronomy for Sustainable Development” found that the use of complete fertilizers improved the growth and yield of tomato plants compared to control plants that received no fertilization. According to the journal “Plant and Soil” the use of complete fertilizers increased the growth and yield of maize (corn) plants and improved the soil nutrient status.

In another study published in the journal “Plant and Soil” it is found that the use of complete fertilizers improved the growth, yield, and nutrient uptake of lettuce plants compared to control plants that received no fertilization.

Another study published in the journal “Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment” found that the use of complete fertilizers increased the growth and yield of potato plants and improved the soil nutrient status.

It is also published in the journal “Agronomy for Sustainable Development” that the use of complete fertilizers improved the growth and yield of sunflower plants and increased the soil nutrient content.

In the journal “Field Crops Research” studies indicated that the use of complete fertilizers improved the growth, yield, and nutrient uptake of soybean plants compared to control plants that received no fertilization.

Disadvantages Of complete fertilizer

There are a few potential disadvantages to using complete fertilizers:

Cost: Complete fertilizers can be more expensive than other types of fertilizers, such as single-nutrient fertilizers.

Risk of over-fertilization: It is possible to over-fertilize plants with complete fertilizers, which can lead to nutrient imbalances and harm plant health. Over-fertilization can also result in excess nutrients leaching into the environment, which can have negative environmental impacts.

Disadvantages Of complete fertilizer

Incompatibility with some plants: Some plants may be sensitive to certain nutrients or may have specific nutrient requirements that are not met by complete fertilizers. This can lead to nutrient imbalances and harm plant health.

Limited flexibility: Complete fertilizers provide a fixed ratio of nutrients, which may not be suitable for all plants or all soil types. This can limit the flexibility of fertilization and may require the use of additional fertilizers to address specific nutrient needs.

Increased risk of nutrient loss: Complete fertilizers may not be as efficient at providing nutrients to plants as other types of fertilizers, such as slow-release fertilizers. This can result in increased nutrient loss through leaching or volatilization, which can have negative environmental impacts.

Poor soil structure: Excessive use of complete fertilizers can lead to poor soil structure and compaction, which can reduce the ability of plants to take up nutrients and water. This can negatively impact plant health and soil fertility.

Dependence on external inputs: The use of complete fertilizers can create a dependency on external inputs, which may not be sustainable in the long term. This can be especially problematic for farmers and gardeners who are trying to grow crops in a sustainable manner.

Limited effectiveness in some soils: Complete fertilizers may not be effective in all soils, especially those that are already nutrient-rich or those that have high levels of certain nutrients. In these cases, the use of complete fertilizers may result in nutrient imbalances or over-fertilization.

What is the difference between urea and complete fertilizer?

Urea is a type of nitrogen-based fertilizer that is commonly used to provide plants with the nitrogen they need to grow and thrive. It is a relatively inexpensive and widely available source of nitrogen that is often used in agriculture and horticulture.

Complete fertilizers, on the other hand, are plant nutrients that contain all three of the primary macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These nutrients are essential for plant growth and development, and they are usually applied in the form of fertilizers to provide plants with the nutrients they need to thrive.

In comparison to urea, complete fertilizers tend to be more expensive and may be more complex to use, as they contain multiple nutrients that may need to be applied in specific proportions. Complete fertilizers are often labeled with three numbers, such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20, which represent the percentage of each nutrient in the product.

Conclusion

Complete fertilizers are plant nutrients that contain all three of the primary macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While complete fertilizers can be an effective way to improve soil fertility and promote healthy plant growth, it is important to choose the right type of fertilizer for your plants based on their specific nutrient needs and the type of soil in which they are grown. It is also important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fertilizers to avoid over-fertilization, which can harm plants and the environment.

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