Monday, August 9, 2010

Facts about Fertilizers

While doing some research on the internet about the N:P:K (Nitrogen: Phosphorus: Pottasium) values of fertilizers, I stumbled upon some interesting information about fertilizers that I would like to post here for sharing.

1) Different NPK Values

Do you know that different manure has different value of NPK percentage in it. This information was obtained from the Allotment Vegetable Growing website:
N:P:K Values

Chicken Manure (1.1: 0.8: 0.5)

Sheep Manure (0.7: 0.3: 0.9)

Rabbit Manure (2.4: 1.4: 0.6)

From the figures above, rabbit manure has a higher value of Nitrogen & Potassium nutrients. My friend, Elicia, whose children rear rabbit, uses the rabbit manure to fertilize her herbs patch. Now I can see why her herbs grow so well.

Note: Both cat and dog droppings can carry organisms harmful to human beings. Dog droppings can contain the eggs of the parasitic worm, toxocara, which can also infect humans. Cats can carry toxiplasma, another disease that can be passed on to humans. Accordingly, it is safer to dispose of these elsewhere rather than use them

More information on farmyard animal manures.


2) Facts about Nitrogen

Nitrogen has the shortest life in the soil as it is easily washed out by heavy rain. To increase Nitrogen content in your soil, try to plant legumes (such as peas, groundnuts) . My friend, Chooi, said her mom used to grow groundnuts among her vegetable. Legumes produce their own nitrogen due to a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that fix nitrogen from the air for the plant, which is why peas generally need no nitrogen supplement.

Nitrogen requirement: cabbages, brussel sprouts, rubharbs

Nitrogen requirement: beetroots, celery, spinach leeks

Nitrogen requirement: brocolli, cauliflower, lettuce

Nitrogen requirement: asparagus, parsnip, onion

LOW Nitrogen requirement: carrot & radish

Nitrogen requirement: peas & broad beans
Apply More Fertiliser for Light Soils

Light and free-draining soils, usually sandy in composition, lose nutrients more quickly than other types, especially in rainy spells. Apply fertiliser more frequently on these soils, especially nitrogen fertilisers to maintain levels as Nitrogen is easily washed away.

Apply Less Fertiliser for Clay Soils

Heavy clay soils and soils containing a lot of organic matter require less frequent application. This is because both substances act as reservoirs holding the nutrients and releasing them slowly over time to the plants

Very Acid or Very Chalky Soils

Phosphates and potassium become more soluble in acidic soil, making them easier for rain to wash away. In chalky (alkaline) soils, phosphate becomes insoluble when mixed with the calcium present in chalky soils. In both cases, divide the application into two or three and apply over the growing season.

Lime and Fertiliser

Never apply or store fertiliser and lime together. There will be a chemical reaction between the lime and the nitrogen in the fertiliser, making neither effective. Especially when growing vegetables, check and adjust if necessary the pH (acidity) of the soil. Acidic soils may contain nutrients but they are less available to the plants.

Feed at the Right Time

Only add fertilisers to plants before and during the growing season. Applications made after the season will just be washed out of the soil and not do any good unless you use an over-winter green manure crop to hold them for the next season.

Boosting Failing Plants

If plants are showing signs of nutrient deficiency then you can give a boost using liquid fertilisers that are absorbed more quickly by the plant. Sometimes the problem isn't the amount of nutrient available but a lack of micro-nutrients preventing take-up by the plants. Try a spray of seaweed extract or a foliar feed with Epsom salts to release the nutrients. (see Additional Elements in Plant Nutrition)

Make Your Own Liquid Feeds

If you have comfrey (an important herb in organic gardening, having many fertilizer and purported medicinal uses) or nettles available you can make your own liquid fertiliser by adding the leaves into a barrel of water and allowing them to ferment for three of four weeks. This will make a fertiliser high in potash, great for tomatoes and hanging baskets. A high nitrogen liquid feed can be made by suspending a hessian sack of horse or sheep droppings into a barrel of water until the water turns the colour of tea.

Notes on Nettle
: The growth of stinging nettle is an indicator that an area has high fertility (especially phosphorus) and has been disturbed. Nettles contain a lot of nitrogen and so are used as a compost activator or can be used to make a liquid fertiliser which although somewhat low in phosphate is useful in supplying magnesium, sulphur and iron.[ They are also one of the few plants that can tolerate, and flourish in, soils rich in poultry droppings.

Controlled Release Fertilisers

When growing in containers or baskets you can use controlled release fertilisers. These gradually dissolve over the growing season ensuring a constant supply of nutrient is available to the plants over the season.
I hope these information will be useful reference to me whenever I am out shopping for fertilizers or when applying fertilizers to my plants or when my plants show sign of ailing.


Anonymous said...


Stephanie said...

Nowadays, it rains too much! I have to use more ferlisers to ensure my plants have 'good food' :-D Thanks for this post.

kitchen flavours said...

Thank you for the valuable information. I must admit, I love gardening, but when it comes to usage, application and type of fertiliser to use, I hit the bottom spot! Most of the time, it is a "try" this and that! Thanks for sharing!

J.C. said...

Ya, that's a good reminder for us to fertilize more frequently when the rainy season hits.

Kitchen flavours,
In fact I am also learning about gardening through internet research. I posted this information that I had gathered so I can share with all others and at the same time it will be a good reminder of what I had learnt online. Good things must be shared!

ilah said...

Hi. What is comfrey called in Malay? Do you have any idea? Tq.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin
Custom Search