Home » Crop Management » Compound Fertilizer

Compound Fertilizer

by Achim Dobermann
Published: Last Updated on
compound fertilizer

Compound fertilizers are a type of fertilizer that contain two or more essential plant nutrients in a single product. These nutrients are typically nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are abbreviated as NPK. Compound fertilizers can be in the form of a powder, granule, or liquid, and they can be applied to the soil or directly to the plant.

There are many different formulations of compound fertilizers, and the specific nutrients and ratios will depend on the needs of the plants being grown. For example, a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content may be suitable for leafy vegetables, while a fertilizer with a higher potassium content may be more appropriate for fruiting vegetables.

Compound fertilizers can be in the form of a powder, granule, or liquid. Powder and granule fertilizers are typically applied to the soil, while liquid fertilizers can be applied directly to the plants.

List of compound fertilizers

Here are some examples of compound fertilizers and their potential benefits:

ADVERTISEMENT

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) fertilizers

These fertilizers contain the three essential plant nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The specific ratios of these nutrients will vary depending on the formulation. For example, a fertilizer with a ratio of 10-20-10 contains 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. NPK fertilizers can be used to improve plant growth and increase yields, as demonstrated in a study published in the journal Agronomy, which found that applying NPK fertilizers to corn, wheat, and potato crops resulted in significantly higher yields compared to unfertilized control plots.

Ammonium sulfate

This fertilizer contains nitrogen and sulfur and is often used to improve the soil’s ability to retain moisture. It is also effective at acidifying soil, making it a good choice for plants that prefer slightly acidic soil conditions.

Calcium nitrate fertilizers

Calcium nitrate fertilizers contain nitrogen and calcium. They are often used to improve plant growth and fruit quality, as demonstrated in a study published in the journal Plant and Soil, which found that applying calcium nitrate fertilizers to tomato crops resulted in improved fruit quality, including higher soluble solids, titratable acidity, and ascorbic acid content.

List of compound fertilizer

ADVERTISEMENT

Potassium chloride fertilizers

Potassium chloride fertilizers contain potassium and chlorine. They are often used to improve plant growth and crop quality, as demonstrated in a study published in the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development, which found that applying potassium chloride fertilizers to potato crops resulted in improved crop quality, including higher dry matter content and reduced pest and disease incidence.

ADVERTISEMENT

Urea fertilizers

Urea fertilizers contain nitrogen and are often used to improve plant growth and increase yields. In a study published in the journal Agronomy, researchers found that applying urea fertilizers to rice crops in China resulted in increased yields and improved water use efficiency compared to using no fertilizers or organic fertilizers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Triple superphosphate

This fertilizer is high in phosphorus and is often used to promote root development and to increase the overall productivity of plants. It is also effective at improving soil structure and increasing the soil’s ability to retain nutrients.

Types of compound fertilizers based on chemical structure

Compound fertilizers can be classified based on their chemical structure and the specific nutrients they contain. Here are a few examples of different types of compound fertilizers based on their structure:

Inorganic compound fertilizers

These fertilizers are made from minerals and do not contain any organic matter. They are often highly concentrated and can be applied in small amounts to provide plants with specific nutrients. Examples of inorganic compound fertilizers include ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, and potassium chloride.

Organic compound fertilizers

These fertilizers are made from organic matter and may contain a variety of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They are often slower to release their nutrients than inorganic fertilizers and may need to be applied more frequently. Examples of organic compound fertilizers include compost, manure, and bone meal.

Types

Synthetic compound fertilizers

These fertilizers are chemically manufactured and are designed to provide plants with specific nutrients. They are often highly concentrated and can be applied in small amounts to provide plants with the nutrients they need. Examples of synthetic compound fertilizers include urea and triple superphosphate.

Water-soluble compound fertilizers

These fertilizers are designed to dissolve quickly in water and can be easily applied to plants through irrigation systems or by watering them directly. They are often highly concentrated and can be applied in small amounts to provide plants with specific nutrients. Examples of water-soluble compound fertilizers include ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, and potassium chloride.

Slow-release compound fertilizers

These fertilizers are designed to release their nutrients over an extended period of time, typically several weeks or months. They are often coated with a material that controls the release rate of the nutrients. Slow-release fertilizers can be a good choice for plants that require a steady supply of nutrients and can help to reduce the risk of over-fertilization. Examples of slow-release compound fertilizers include sulfur-coated urea and polymer-coated fertilizers.

Biofertilizers

These fertilizers are made from living microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, that can fix nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants. Biofertilizers are often used to improve soil health and to increase the availability of nutrients to plants. Examples of biofertilizers include rhizobia bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi.

World consumption of compound fertilizers

According to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global consumption of compound fertilizers has steadily increased over the past few decades. In 2019, the world consumed approximately 56.7 million metric tons of compound fertilizers, with the largest consumers being China, the United States, and India. These three countries alone accounted for over half of the global consumption of compound fertilizers in 2019.

World consumption of compound fertilizers

China is the largest consumer of compound fertilizers, accounting for approximately 27% of global consumption in 2019. The country has a large and diverse agricultural sector, with a wide range of crops grown in different regions. As a result, there is a high demand for fertilizers to support crop production.

The United States is the second largest consumer of compound fertilizers, accounting for approximately 11% of global consumption in 2019. The country has a highly developed agricultural sector, with a focus on intensive crop production and high yields. As a result, farmers in the United States rely heavily on fertilizers, including compound fertilizers, to maintain soil fertility and support crop growth.

India is the third largest consumer of compound fertilizers, accounting for approximately 8% of global consumption in 2019. The country has a large agricultural sector that supports a population of over 1.3 billion people. To meet the demands of its population, India relies on a range of fertilizers, including compound fertilizers, to support crop production.

Other countries with significant consumption of compound fertilizers include Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, and Pakistan. These countries have large agricultural sectors and rely on fertilizers, including compound fertilizers, to support crop production and meet the demands of their populations.

Advantages of compound fertilizer

There are several advantages to using compound fertilizers:

Convenience: Compound fertilizers provide all of the essential plant nutrients in a single product, making it easier for gardeners and farmers to fertilize their crops.

Efficiency: Compound fertilizers can be more efficient than using separate fertilizers for each nutrient. This is because the nutrients in the compound fertilizer are balanced and can be more easily taken up by the plants.

Customization: There are many different formulations of compound fertilizers available, allowing farmers and gardeners to choose a product that is specifically formulated for their particular crops and soil conditions.

Cost-effectiveness: Compound fertilizers can be more cost-effective than using separate fertilizers for each nutrient, as they provide all of the essential nutrients in a single product.

Improved plant growth: Properly fertilizing plants can improve their growth, yield, and overall health. In a study published in the journal Agronomy, researchers found that applying compound fertilizers to corn, wheat, and potato crops resulted in significantly higher yields compared to unfertilized control plots.

Environmental benefits: Properly fertilizing plants can help to reduce the need for additional inputs, such as pesticides and water, and can help to improve soil health. In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers found that using compound fertilizers on rice crops in China resulted in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved water use efficiency compared to using no fertilizers or organic fertilizers.

Improved crop quality: Properly fertilizing plants can improve their overall health and quality. In a study published in the journal Plant and Soil, researchers found that applying compound fertilizers to tomato crops resulted in improved fruit quality, including higher soluble solids, titratable acidity, and ascorbic acid content.

Increased yields: Proper fertilization can improve plant growth and increase yields. In a study published in the journal Agronomy, researchers found that applying compound fertilizers to corn, wheat, and potato crops resulted in significantly higher yields compared to unfertilized control plots.

Disadvantages of using compound fertilizers

Here are some disadvantages of using compound fertilizers:

Over-fertilization: One of the main disadvantages of compound fertilizers is the risk of over-fertilization. Applying too much fertilizer can lead to excess nutrient buildup in the soil, which can harm plants and the environment. For example, excess nitrogen can lead to the leaching of nitrates into groundwater, which can be harmful to humans and animals. In a study published in the journal Environmental Pollution, researchers found that over-fertilization with nitrogen and phosphorus can lead to negative impacts on aquatic ecosystems.

Disadvantages of using compound fertilizers

Cost: While compound fertilizers can be cost-effective compared to using separate fertilizers for each nutrient, they can still be expensive for farmers and gardeners.

Dependence on synthetic chemicals: Compound fertilizers are typically made from synthetic chemicals, which can have negative impacts on the environment. For example, the production and transportation of synthetic fertilizers can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Inadequate nutrition: While compound fertilizers can provide the essential nutrients that plants need to grow, they may not provide all of the trace minerals and micronutrients that plants need for optimal health.

Negative impacts on soil health: Some studies have suggested that the use of synthetic fertilizers can negatively impact soil health, leading to reduced soil organic matter, increased soil erosion, and decreased soil microbial activity.

Nutrient imbalance: While compound fertilizers can provide the essential nutrients that plants need to grow, the specific ratios of nutrients in the fertilizer may not be appropriate for all plants. For example, applying a fertilizer with a high nitrogen content to a plant that has a high phosphorus requirement may lead to a nutrient imbalance, which can negatively impact plant growth.

Loss of nutrients: Some studies have shown that synthetic fertilizers can be less efficient at delivering nutrients to plants compared to organic fertilizers. This can be due to factors such as leaching, denitrification, and volatilization, which can result in the loss of nutrients from the soil.

Negative impacts on non-target species: The use of synthetic fertilizers can lead to negative impacts on non-target species, such as beneficial insects and microbes. For example, a study published in the journal Environmental Pollution found that the use of synthetic fertilizers can lead to negative impacts on earthworms, which are important for soil health.

Risk of contamination: Synthetic fertilizers can contain contaminants, such as heavy metals, that can be harmful to humans and the environment. In addition, the production and transportation of synthetic fertilizers can also lead to the contamination of air, water, and soil.

Limited availability: Synthetic fertilizers are typically made from non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels, and their availability may be limited in the future.

Difference between straight and compound fertilizers

Straight fertilizers are fertilizers that contain a single type of nutrient, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. These fertilizers are often used to correct specific nutrient deficiencies in the soil or to provide plants with a specific nutrient that they require for optimal growth.

Difference between straight and compound fertilizers

Compound fertilizers, on the other hand, are fertilizers that contain a mixture of different nutrients. They are commonly referred to by their NPK ratio, which stands for the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that they contain. For example, an NPK fertilizer with a ratio of 20-10-10 contains 20% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.

There are several advantages to using compound fertilizers. One of the main advantages is that they allow you to provide your plants with a balanced mix of nutrients, rather than having to apply separate fertilizers for each nutrient. This can be more convenient and cost-effective, and it can also help to prevent nutrient imbalances in the soil. Additionally, compound fertilizers are often more widely available and easier to find than straight fertilizers.

That being said, there are also situations where straight fertilizers may be more appropriate. For example, if you are trying to correct a specific nutrient deficiency in the soil, a straight fertilizer that is high in that nutrient may be more effective than a compound fertilizer. It is always a good idea to conduct a soil test to determine the specific nutrient needs of your plants and to choose the appropriate fertilizers accordingly.

It’s important to note that the specific fertilizers that are best suited for a particular plant or soil type will depend on the specific needs of the plant and the characteristics of the soil. It is always a good idea to conduct a soil test to determine the specific nutrient needs of your plants and to choose fertilizers accordingly.

Conclusion

Compound fertilizers are a type of fertilizer that combines two or more essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, in a single product. In addition to providing the necessary nutrients, compound fertilizers can also improve soil structure and fertility, leading to healthier and more productive plants. However, it is important to carefully follow the recommended application rates and to properly store and handle these fertilizers to avoid potential negative impacts on the environment. Overall, compound fertilizers can be an effective tool for promoting plant growth and improving soil health, when used responsibly.

Text ©. The authors. Except where otherwise noted, content and images are subject to copyright. Any reuse without express permission from the copyright owner is prohibited.

Leave a Comment