A plant’s main needs are light, water and nutrients. These nutrients are present in the soil, but they may be scarce or in short supply, hence requiring the use of fertilizers. Whether chemical or organic, a good fertilizer must imperatively provide the plant with sufficient amounts of the nutrients needed for its development.

Each plant has nutrient requirements. When confronted to a shortage or lack of nutrients, the plant may have shortcomings, wither and die. To remedy this situation, we use fertilizer, which will fill the missing gaps and give the plant the nutrients it needs.

Nutrients

A plant mainly needs potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus. They must imperatively be present in the fertilizer. Depending on the type of plant, the need for one of these components may prevail over the others. Thus, leafy plants have a greater need for nitrogen, which acts on the development of leaves and stems. Likewise, plants grown for their flowers and / or fruit need a more significant phosphorus proportion. Finally, to have a vigorous plant in good health, it must have sufficient amounts of potassium, which is also essential to the plant during its flowering and fruiting phases. A good fertilizer should provide these elements in sufficient quantities.

Once the plant and the micro-organisms present in the soil have absorbed the necessary nutrients, they naturally reject acid. As more nutrients become available through the supply of fertilizer, the amount of released acid will also increase. Limestone restores the soil’s chemical balance. It can also be found in the tap water used for irrigation due to the different treatments and processes to which it is subjected. It is then necessary to choose an acidifying fertilizer. If you use rainwater, a fertilizer with little or no acid content will be more relevant given that limestone is present to a lesser extent.

The final criterion to consider when choosing the fertilizer is its form. In stores, fertilizer comes in different forms: the solid state (powder, tablets, sticks or bricks) and the liquid state. You should know that the plant absorbs water very quickly, so that a liquid fertilizer or a fertilizer diluted in irrigation water will be favoured over solid fertilizers which dissolve more slowly. On the other hand, solid fertilizers provide the plant with a constant and balanced nutrition.

Different types of fertilizers

Mineral or chemical fertilizers are synthetic fertilizers that are manufactured from chemical substances or organic material (rock phosphate, basalt stones or calcareous algae) that have undergone chemical reactions. The advantage of this kind of fertilizer is that it comes in the form of concentrated solutions and is directly absorbed by the plants since it contains all the nutrients it requires. Their effects are almost immediate, which is why their use is recommended for treating diseased plants and / or those that have shortcomings. Because of their concentration, these fertilizers must be properly dosed. Keep in mind that the chemicals end up in the plant itself, which makes it more or less unfit for consumption. There’s also the fact that not all of these chemical components are absorbed, and their excessive presence can affect both the plant and the ground. Indeed, the surplus chemicals eat away at the plant, destroy micro-organisms and dry and deplete the ground. Moreover, these elements can infiltrate and contaminate groundwater and streams.

Organic fertilizers contain components that are completely organic without any additive or provoked chemical reaction. They are made from elements of vegetable origin (algae, sugar beet), animal components (manure, guano, …) or mineral constituents (ash, rocks). They also contain the nutrients the plant needs. However, their structure is much more raw and they must be processed and decomposed by micro-organisms in order to be absorbed by plants. The plant therefore has a medium term supply of fertilizer from which it can draw whenever needed. This type of fertilizer has the advantage of being fully absorbed by plants and micro-organisms, resulting in a richer soil. Moreover, since the elements contained in the fertilizer are fully absorbed by micro-organisms and plants, pollution is almost none.

Purchasing or producing your fertilizer

In trade, chemical fertilizers are just as available as organic fertilizers. They offer the advantage of being almost ready for use, and are sometimes combined with weed killer or insecticide. But you can also produce your own fertilizer and this does not require much investment. Among these, we can cite compost, which is produced from the fermentation of household waste, and nettle manure. But we can also cultivate fast growing plants, which are subsequently cut and buried in the ground. They turn into fertilizer as they decompose. Fertilizers obtained by this method are 100% natural.

Related posts:

  1. Use the right fertilizer for your plants’ proper development
  2. Using fertilizers and amendments
  3. Growing orchids

Published in Products by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011