Maintain soil fertility: How to choose the right fertility

Maintain soil fertility How to choose the right fertility
Maintain soil fertility How to choose the right fertility

While the soil provides nutrients for plants, it gradually depletes and loses its structure. In a very short period of time, it can become a nuisance if it is not properly cared for. One way to maintain it is to replenish the nutrients taken out of the soil due to the harvest. Therefore, every gardener has an unusual “soil first aid kit” in which they stores all the necessary substances to replenish the soil’s depleted nutrients and maintain soil fertility.


The foundation of such a soil remediation toolkit is organic and mineral fertilizers. The main role of organic fertilizers is to restore the soil structure, while the main role of mineral fertilizers is to provide plants with the necessary nutrients, including the main nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, quickly and in sufficient quantities. There is no doubt that each medicine chest contains humus, manure, chicken manure, compost, peat, and other kinds of organic fertilizers, and in a separate room (away from children and playing animals) nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilizers in simple and compound or complex forms.

Every year the chemistry laboratory replenishes its stockpile of mineral fertilizers with new forms that contain all the same elements essentially from the periodic table of plant elements. Still, instead of salts, they are more readily available compounds (chelates) that can be used directly by plants without passing through additional (intermediate) compounds.

With a standard set of mineral fertilizers in stock, it will be necessary to introduce new forms to the list of soil helpers. They will significantly reduce labor costs and increase the effectiveness of their impact on soil fertility and crop yield.


Every gardening home has simple fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) in the form of various salts. Nitrogen fertilizers usually contain urea, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium sulfate. Phosphates necessarily include simple or double calcium superphosphate. Potassium is usually represented by potassium chloride, potassium sulfate, and potash. These are undoubtedly needed – especially for spring and summer applications. However, for the main soil applications in preparation for planting and sowing, it is easier and more convenient to use multi-nutrient fertilizers.


Compound fertilizers contain several elements in different proportions and concentrations. The higher the percentage of elements in the fertilizer, the less ballast there will be. How can I tell which compound fertilizer has a higher concentration of nutrients?

How to choose a compound fertilizer based on its composition

Each compost or compound fertilizer has specific markings or conventional numerical formulas on bags and other containers. The label indicates the quantity and names of the nutrients and their proportions in the formula. By convention, the names of the major nutrients are always written in a specific order: the first is nitrogen and its quantity, the second is phosphorus, and the third is potassium.

For example, a bag of compound fertilizer labeled 11:10:11 has the following name: Nitrophoska. The number indicates the percentage of the three basic elements in the fertilizer. Together they make up 32%, with the remaining 68% being salt ballast.

On the other bag, it says Nitrophoska (NPK) (the fertilizer has the same three elements) and the numbers 17:17:17. Add it all up, and you get 51% – the concentration of the required nutrients and 49% ballast.

The calculations show that it is more economical to buy nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but one must pay attention to the ratio between nutrients. If the first figure (nitrogen) exceeds 15-16%, it is in the form of spring application. If the nitrogen content is lower, it is used for fall application or fall dressing.

When reading formulations, it is important to note the ratio between nitrogen and potassium and nitrogen and phosphorus because they compete with each other, and if the ratio is broken, it will inhibit the competitors from entering the plant. For example, with a 1:1 ratio of nitrogen to potassium, the plant will only absorb 50% of the applied dose. Potassium fertilizer would have to be added to such a complex. Therefore, if it is not stated on the package, the accompanying text always includes a supplementary statement as to which soils and which crops the fertilizer is recommended for.

For example, it is recommended that granular diammonium phosphate with a 19:49 nitrogen to phosphorus ratio be used primarily in the fall. It can also be used as a surface application during the latter part of the growing season.

Nitrophosphate with an N:P ratio of 23:23 is recommended for all vegetable crops on all soils but with a higher potassium content.

It is recommended to fertilize garden crops with potassium monophosphate in the ratio N:P: K = 0:52:34 starting from the second half of August.

Very valuable are complex fertilizers containing trace element additives, including magnesium or zinc, molybdenum, boron, etc. When using multi-element fertilizers, it is important to follow the recommended application rates for the region and soil type. Failure to do so may cause damage to the plant and exacerbate negative processes in the soil. In addition to the well-known and widely available specialty stores mineral fertilizers, you must be in the medicine cabinet generic and Kemira – fertilizers that provide feeding quickly saturated crops with nutrients. In addition, they contain the basic nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and trace elements. Therefore, they can be used for all horticultural crops.


In order for plants to thrive, you need micro fertilizers in addition to basic nutrients. You should have a set of micronutrients in your first aid kit for spring and summer foliar and root applications, seedbed preparation, seedlings, and pre-planting. They contain different amounts and combinations of magnesium, boron, zinc, manganese, iodine, molybdenum, and iron. In modern preparations containing a wide range of trace elements are needed in the first aid kit. They influence the development of the root system and improve the immunity of plants, i.e., their ability to resist diseases and bad weather. Micronutrients are used in those combinations that are scarce in the soil and necessary for proper plant growth and development. Micronutrients are more like medicines than food, and there is no need to overuse them.

Agrochemical companies are constantly developing new micronutrients with additional properties. For example, micronutrient formulations supplemented with growth stimulants and humic substances are appearing in the fertilizer market, among others.

New forms of mineral fertilizers

If we describe the general direction of agrochemistry according to the development of new fertilizers, the future lies in easily digestible, ballast-free, long-lasting forms that not only nourish plants and fill the soil with essential minerals but also heal it. From this perspective, slow-acting fertilizers, micronutrients with different combinations and contents, biofertilizers, and other types of fertilizers that last 3 years or more are promising for the garden medicine chest.

Soil's depleted nutrients and maintain soil fertility
Soil’s depleted nutrients and maintain soil fertility


Mineral fertilizers

A special class of slow-acting fertilizers has been developed by domestic chemists. They are supplied in the form of tablets, sticks, and plastic bags. Simply insert the tablets, sticks, or bags into the soil at the roots of the plant, as recommended, and they will “work” for one or more seasons under the influence of moisture. (From 2 months to 2 to 3 years). Apions’ list of uses includes berries, vegetables, flowers, and horticultural crops.

Compound Microfertilizers

Compound micronutrients in encapsulated form, containing several chelated forms of elements, are essential in the first aid kit. They are available to the plant in the shortest possible time and are 95% absorbed, i.e., no ballast. For foliar fertilizers, it is recommended to use micronutrients containing different elements and their combinations: “Master grade elements” (magnesium, iron, copper, zinc), which can be used on any soil.” Conventional grade elements” (copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, sucrose) are indispensable for vegetables, including tomatoes, cabbage, and potatoes. In addition, micronutrients relatively reduce the nitrate content of the product while increasing resistance to diseases and pests.

A complex micro-formulation “Oracle” (iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc), a chitosan product based on organic certification, is available for gardeners and flower lovers. It is used for the fertilization of horticultural crops, berries, flower beds, lawns.

It is also necessary to use chelated forms of fertilizers – indispensable for foliar feeding, especially for weakened plants.


Biofertilizers are a new “word” in agricultural chemistry. They increase the effective and natural fertility of the soil, deoxygenate it, where for various reasons, the acidity increases and begins to inhibit most vegetable and horticultural crops. Naturally, biological agents do not lead to an immediate improvement of the soil. Still, after 2-3 years of application, there will be noticeable results and allow to accept healthy and environmentally friendly products. Microbial preparations for EM crops are needed in the medicine cabinet. Good soil conditioners are biofertilizers, “Ferment,” etc.

Universal biofertilizer – “Bacterial fertilizer” A unique product for plant nutrition and protection, restoration of natural soil fertility and its beneficial microbiota, protection of crops from fungi and other diseases. Organic fertilizer is an economical and efficient universal biofertilizer. It is recommended for horticultural crops and indoor floriculture. 1-2 treatments per season, including seed preparation, can improve seedling survival, improve soil conditions and increase crop yields.

A brief overview cannot cover the full range of mineral fertilizers offered. However, a minimum list of mineral fertilizers is always needed in every medicine cabinet, and of course, organic, organic mineral (OMU), and other fertilizers.

More related information about soil fertility

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