When the soil is not fertile, fertilizers are added to supply nutrients. These are applied to the soil for good crop yield.
Soil fertility is the ability of the soil to provide plants with adequate and balanced amounts of nutrients. When the soil is not fertile, fertilizers are added to supply nutrients. Fertilizers are substances which supplement nutrients. These are applied to the soil for good crop yield.
Nitrogen. This is the most important nutrient, and the deficiency is common worldwide. Nitrogen is an essential part of chlorophyll and protein. It makes the leaves green and promotes vegetative growth.
Phosphorus. As a plant nutrient, phosphorus has several functions. It is needed for root development, maturation of crops, flowering, fruiting, stalk strength, uniformity in maturation, and cell division. All soils are low in phosphorus.
Potassium. Potassium has several functions. It plays an important function in starch and sugar formation, root growth, stalk strength, and in increasing plant resistance to diseases. Potassium is a plant food nutrient easily consumed by plants. If enough potassium is available in the soil, plants continue to take it in given beyond their normal needs. This is known as luxury consumption or problem when other soil nutrients are not on a level of adequacy to the basic and normal requirements of the plants. Potassium activates the enzymes necessary for storing nitrogen in plants.
Ways of Applying Fertilizers to Plants
Band application. This is done by digging furrows around each plant like cabbage, applying two or three spoonfuls of the fertilizers depending on the size of the plant, then covering the fertilizer with the dug-out soil. Citrus and other fruit trees are also treated by the band application. The furrows are dug as far as the branches reach, then a cup of fertilizer or two is applied and covered with soil.
Broadcast method. This is applied in larger areas, which needs several kilos or bags of fertilizers to a rice paddy.
Side dressing. This is the application of fertilizer in liquid form around a plant. The fertilizer is dissolved in the right amount of water and sprinkled to the plants.
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Tips in applying fertilizers
1. Apply fertilizers when the plant is actively growing, flowering, or fruiting because this is the stage when the plant needs great amount of nutrients.
2. Soil must be moist before applying fertilizer. Moisture dissolves the fertilizer into a form which can be absorbed by the roots of the plants.
3. Seeds and plants should not come in contact with fertilizers for the latter will burn and kill the former.
4. Use plenty of compost. Compost complements inorganic fertilizers by releasing their nutrients slowly. It can also supply trace elements.
5. The recommended amount of fertilizers to be used for a particular kind of plants growth in each soil type and their stage of growth must be followed. Sandy soil will need greater amount of nitrogenous fertilizers.
6. Organic fertilizers must be applied in plants liberally because they improve the soil’s composition.
Published in: Gardening