When fertilizing the soil, gardeners want first of all to increase the yield of this or that crop. Of course, in addition to this, they get an increase in plant immunity and even an improvement in soil structure, i.e. undoubted additional benefits.
However, such complex effects can only be produced if the fertilizers are correctly combined, their dosage correctly calculated, and the period and method of soil application correctly chosen.
In this material, we will tell you about the most commonly used mineral fertilizers for home plots, their characteristics, and the way they are applied.
FERTILIZER APPLICATION RATE IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS
Do not think that the more fertilizers in the soil of the garden, the better the plants, for example, an excess of sodium nitrate or this harmless, at first glance, lime can cause a sharp increase in calcium in the soil, leading to a sharp lack of magnesium.
Vegetable crops with a lack of magnesium and excess calcium in the soil can begin to lose the quality of the leaves, fruits – change color, discoloration, in the center of the fruit, its flesh often forms black spots, tissue death.
Of course, plants are negatively affected by the lack of nutrients in the soil, they starve, lose immunity, lose drought tolerance, winter hardiness, often get sick, are more actively affected by pests.
As a rule, the packaging of any mineral fertilizer must indicate its name, the fertilizer formula, as well as what (which), are the main substances and which are used as additional substances. There is a guide on the package that you can use to calculate the application rate.
In addition to its composition, each fertilizer is characterized by its ability to dissolve in water or accumulate moisture. Note that the higher the hygroscopicity factor, the more water the fertilizer actively absorbs during storage, and the faster granular (mineral fertilizers are usually granular) will clump, but this does not mean they will lose their properties.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO USE ONLY ORGANIC MATTER?
It is often possible to hear from vegetable growers that for the full presence and fruiting of vegetable crops it is sufficient to use only “organic matter”, but it is allowed to use minerals in fertilizers exclusively or in small doses.
Organic fertilizers in the garden usually use cow manure (slurry, mud, decomposed manure), chicken manure (diluted 15 times, preferably 20 times), and so-called putty, produced by the digestion of green manure (weeds, nettles, etc.).
But is this organic matter the only one sufficient for vegetable crops? What type of fertilizer is it? There is no doubt that organic fertilizer plans are complex and contain in their composition almost all the elements from Mendeleev’s table, in addition to the three main ones, but the amount of these elements in organic matter is usually very small.
In other words, you only need to choose the optimal dosage of organic fertilizers, and this is not always possible to be more or less accurate.
WHAT ARE MINERAL FERTILIZERS MADE OF?
As for mineral fertilizers, then it is much easier to calculate the applied dose here. In addition, these fertilizers have a strictly defined set of substances in precise concentrations, often with a primary composition, consisting of a single or series of basic substances and a certain number of impurities.
They are distinguished into simple types of mineral fertilizers and complex types of mineral fertilizers. The first type of fertilizers does not necessarily consist of a single element, but also additional (minimal amounts), as auxiliary elements. The second type of fertilizers usually has several or more quantities of primary elements and some additional elements.
Mineral fertilizers are based on familiar components: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. In addition, these components are sometimes combined, and then the fertilizer is called a compound fertilizer. The number of major elements can, of course, vary considerably.
The main component of mineral fertilizers is nitrogen, which can be in the form of nitrates, for example, calcium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate – ammonium nitrate, as well as in the form of amides – well known as urea.
Differences between forms, except for the presence of the main element – other forms are differently appreciated by a soil layer. Fertilizers in the form of ammonium and ammonia are most actively absorbed, while the nitrate form is also actively absorbed, but leaches out of the soil quickly, which does not bode well for the plant.
In order to find the ideal form of fertilizer, you must know the type of soil in your vegetable garden. For example, sod-podzolic soils, which are usually acidic, “prefer” nitrate forms with an alkaline reaction, but on soils where the reaction is initially alkaline or neutral, it is better to use amides or ammonium, which can acidify them slightly.
The most commonly used nitrogen fertilizers.
First, of course, is ammonium nitrate, which contains 26% (low grade) to 34.4% (high grade) of ammonia and nitrate form of nitrogen. Ammonium nitrate is usually in powder form, and it is most commonly applied in the spring by digging into the soil on the full bayonet of a shovel.
This mineral fertilizer is good for both dense and loose soils, but in the second case, it can simply be spread on the surface. This fertilizer is also used at the beginning of vegetation of vegetable crops in order to stimulate their growth activity.
Not everyone knows that before making a bed, it should be mixed with dolomite powder or lime, usually 1:2, and 250 grams of ammonium silica requires 0.5 kg of lime or flour.
Table beet and potatoes respond well to this fertilizer, but they can also be used for other vegetable crops. As for mixing, mixing with potassium sulfate, phosphate flour, urea, and potassium nitrate is perfectly fine.
Urea, or urea, is used not infrequently in vegetable gardens. It has a nitrogen content of about 46% and is in the form of ammonia. This mineral fertilizer can be used in any type of soil and is most effective in the dissolved form, as a large portion of the nitrogen is washed away when applied in the dry form (crystals).
Remember that urea acidifies the soil in your garden, so use 40 grams of lime for 50 grams of urea. Do not use more than 15 grams of urea per square meter of bed, otherwise, the vegetable crop will use most of the nutrients to form vegetation, which will affect the yield.
Combined applications of urea and calcium nitrate, cow manure, and potassium sulfate are acceptable.
There are several versions of phosphate mineral fertilizers, for example, water-soluble or rapidly assimilated by plants, such as calcium mono- or bis- superphosphate; insoluble in water but highly soluble in weak acids such as citric acid, such as bone meal, and soluble only in strong acids, such as phosphate powder.
The most commonly used phosphate fertilizers
Calcium superphosphate is quite often used, it has about 14-20% of plant-available phosphorus oxide, as well as trace amounts of sulfur and gypsum. One of the advantages of calcium superphosphate is that it is not at all compacted and dissolves fairly easily.
This mineral fertilizer is one of the best vegetables that respond well to his application: tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, eggplants, onions, carrots, cabbage, and various green leafy crops.
You can enrich the soil with this mineral fertilizer in the spring and autumn when digging, or you can add it to the soil when planting seedlings, etc. Vegetable sprouts do not need more than 28 grams of calcium superphosphate per square meter, but only 3.5-4 grams per bush or per square meter during the growing season (for green crops). Keep in mind that over time, the use of calcium superphosphate can skew the pH of the soil toward acidity.
Double Calcium Superphosphate
Double superphosphate, which is also common, can contain 45% to 48% plant-available phosphorus oxide and trace amounts of gypsum. It should be noted that this fertilizer has the advantage that it dissolves well in water and can be stored completely without clumping for a long period of time.
It is necessary to use calcium superphosphate, considering the increased amount of phosphoric acid in its composition, so that 20 grams per square meter is sufficient for young seedlings, and only 2 grams per square meter is needed under bushes or in “green” beds of adult vegetable crops.
It is important to note that most potash fertilizers contain chlorine, so you should not use this fertilizer on your vegetables.
Important: Don’t ignore all potash fertilizers for fear of damaging your vegetable crops, as most crops need this fertilizer very much – especially vegetable crops such as beet, carrots, and potatoes require large amounts of potash to grow.
The most common potassium fertilizers
Very often used by gardeners is potassium sulfate, which has an active ingredient of about 50% and does not compress at all even in long-term storage. It does not contain harmful chlorine, the fertilizer is completely soluble and is recognized by gardeners as being almost the best. It is permitted to apply this mineral fertilizer at the beginning and end of the season, as well as at its peak. It can be used in combination with many fertilizers other than nitrogen.
The second mineral fertilizer containing potassium that is often used is grass ash. Generally speaking, grass wood ash is a true multi-compound fertilizer that contains potassium, phosphorus and calcium, and even magnesium, iron, and other elements, with only nitrogen.
The disadvantage of wood ash is that its composition may contain a lot of potassium or very little, for example, the ash from burning linden or birch trees contains up to 10-12% potassium, while cork ash contains a lot of calcium 20-40% and very little potassium, moreover, such ash eventually acidifies the land garden.
As for ashes in general, they can be used both as the main fertilizer and as additional fertilizer. Particularly noteworthy is the effect of applying wood ashes on medium and heavy soils, the time of application is flexible, in autumn and spring, as well as planting.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, edible beets, onions, and carrots respond very well to the application of wood ash.
FERTILIZER WITH A MULTI-COMPONENT COMPOSITION
Let’s talk about multi-component mineral fertilizers that are often used by gardeners, that is, containing several main ingredients at the same time.
The most commonly used composts
The list is entitled nitro Ammophos, which has a high nitrogen content of 16 – 17%, a phosphorus content of about 24%, and a slightly lower potassium content of 16 – 28%. Nitro Ammophos is water-soluble and it can be used on different soils, although it is better if the soil is light – at the beginning of the season and vice versa, as well as in the peak season.
Tomatoes, potatoes, beets, cucumbers respond very well to this mineral fertilizer, followed by other vegetable crops. As a rule, one square meter costs 16-18 grams of fertilizer.
Ammophos comes in second place: it contains up to 12% nitrogen, 15% phosphorus, 15% potassium, about 14% sulfur, and trace amounts of calcium and magnesium. Ammophos is added to the soil at the beginning, middle, and end of the season. ammophos is suitable for many types of soil and is particularly suitable for saline soils.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and carrots respond very well to Ammophos, other vegetables are slightly less responsive.
Di Diammofoska is used less frequently in this trinity of multi-element fertilizers; it contains 9 or 10% ammophos nitrogen, 25 or 26% phosphorus oxide, and 25 or 26% potassium, according to the markings indicated by the manufacturer (9-25-25 or 10-26-26).
This fertilizer is also chlorine-free, so you can use it to fertilize vegetables during the season.
Mineral fertilizers are usually used by gardeners who use a lot of organic fertilizers, so this fertilizer with the lowest nitrogen content complements the organic part of the soil, making it almost perfect.
The only thing that needs to be clear: if you are using it on an infrequently watered summer house or on very dry soil, this fertilizer must always be cultivated in the soil, but on the contrary, on soils with too much water, you can spread it on the surface.
We have listed here the most widely used mineral fertilizers. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.