Soil contains different types of nutrients that support plant growth. Plants utilize these nutrients to make their own food. However, over a period, plants use the nutrients in the soil completely and the soil becomes deficient in nutrients. So, in order to make the soil fertile again we need to add good sources of nutrients, which are nothing but fertilizers. Simply, the soil should be improved by adding sources of nutrients called fertilizers. When soil is enriched with required nutrients, plants can grow quickly, bloom more flowers and stay away from diseases. In this article, we will discuss what fertilizers are and kinds of fertilizers available in the market.
Types of fertilizers
Fertilizers contain nutrients like nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, sulfur, calcium, etc. Based on the source of nutrients, fertilizers are categorized into two types – organic and inorganic fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers are the oldest method of improving soil nutrients. Organic fertilizers are made using naturally available sources like dried or crushed plant parts, dead and decayed sources of plants and animals. Neem cake, compost and manure are commonly used organic fertilizers. Use of these fertilizers is safe to plants and environment, as they are natural.
- Neem cake: Neem cake is made by crushing neem leaves, bark and fruits. Neem cake is the best source of micro-nutrients that support growth of plants. In addition to nutrient support, neem cake provides protection against insects and pests. The cost of neem cake is Rs. 10 per kilogram. In order to apply it on the potted plants, take 100 grams of neem cake and sprinkle on the top soil and stir with a stick along with the top soil for uniform distribution. Use neem cake once a month.
- Organic manure: Organic manure forms the source of essential micro-nutrients for growth and formation of flowers. This is made by dried parts of plants. The cost of organic manure is Rs. 70 per kilogram. Add a cup of organic manure on the top soil of pots and stir with a stick. Use it once in a month. Even excess use of organic manure will not harm your plants.
- Organic compost: Organic compost is made by the farm waste products, vermi-compost, crop residues and animal parts (often bones). Dried cow dung is the most commonly available organic compost.The cost of organic compost is Rs. 20 per kilograms. Use two cups of organic compost for a plant once a month. In order to apply, remove small portion of top soil from the pot, fill it with organic compost and cover it with the removed soil.
Inorganic fertilizers are made using chemical sources like ammonia, nitrates, rock phosphate, etc. Inorganic fertilizers are advantageous over organic fertilizers as they are readily available. As soon as you add these fertilizers along with water, the fertilizer can be easily transported and stored. The only disadvantage with inorganic fertilizers is excess application and inappropriate usage may cause irritability to plant growth. DAP is the best example for inorganic fertilizer.
- DAP (Di-Ammonium-Phosphate): DAP is a white crystalline substance and has good spreading characteristic in the soil. It is best source for phosphate and good for the growth and yield of the plant.Cost of DAP per kilogram is Rs. 25 and is available at fertilizer shops in Hyderabad. Add 50 grams or 1 cup DAP on the top soil of pots and stir gently with a stick for uniform distribution. Apply DAP once in a month for better results. Avoid applying DAP when you plan to sow seeds in pot because it leads to seed damage. DAP can be stored for a long period of time in cool and dry conditions.
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