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Fertilizers are compounds with a fertilizing function used in gardening and agriculture to provide the soil and plants with important nutrients. The shape, growth and vegetative cycle of the plant are completed, in fact, only if it receives all the essential nutrients it needs from the soil. Plant species, in order to survive, need substances that are defined as fundamental or necessary for their existence and others that are not indispensable, but in any case complementary to the growth and healthy development of the plant. The essential nutrients, called macroelements, are: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. The microelements, on the other hand, are: iron, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and chlorine. Other substances of fundamental importance for plants are: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum and manganese. There are also nutritional compounds that are used only by certain plant species. Such substances are iodine, sodium, selenium, silicon and even vanadium and cobalt. Most of the substances used in plant nutrition are called minerals because they are inorganic elements existing in nature. Not all minerals useful for the survival of plants are found naturally dissolved in the soil and that is why it is necessary to resort to those external compounds called fertilizers that contain them and that, when adequately distributed on the ground, allow the plant to feed on them through its own root system.
THE fertilizers used in agriculture and gardening are divided into three very important categories: organic (or biological), chemical (or mineral) and organomineral. Organic fertilizers are derived from organic or natural substances, such as manure or animal blood, chemical fertilizers are produced through industrial processes, while organominerals derive from the mixing of chemical and biological fertilizers. Fertilizers, regardless of their origin, contain some or all of the nutrients needed by the plant. We will thus have fertilizers based on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium or fertilizers composed of two or more essential nutrients. The mixtures of two or more elements are called complex fertilizers, while the fertilizers with a single substance are called essential. Fertilizers based on nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium provide plants with the main constituent elements of plant tissues, while those based on microelements give plants the mineral substances used to perform some important physiological functions, such as photosynthesis where iron is used. Other microelements can also be used to improve the resistance of plants to unfavorable climatic conditions or to enhance root growth. These properties are favored respectively by the use of silicon and chlorine.
A correct use of fertilizers also requires an adequate dosage. Chemical fertilizers are purchased through packages in which manufacturers indicate exactly the amount of substance to add to the soil and when to do it. The dosage of the fertilizer it varies according to the type of mixture from which it is composed, the type of plant grown, the vegetative stage of the same and the type of soil. All these factors are closely linked to each other and determine the dosage and type of fertilizer ds use. A factor that greatly affects the amount of fertilizer to be applied to the soil is the pH of the latter. The soils that are too calcareous make it absolutely unnecessary to add calcium. Phosphorus, on the other hand, becomes insoluble in acidic and basic soils, so it will be necessary to opt for fertilizers with phosphate formulations capable of being used by the plant or for treatments, such as plowing, which allow the plant to use the fertilizer freshly added phosphate into the soil. Phosphorus must not be added in excessive quantities to the soil because the soil in our areas is quite rich in it. Nitrogen fertilizers, on the other hand, must absolutely not be lacking in the fertilization process of plants, although in any case it is not necessary to exceed in use because the opposite effect could be obtained, that is, the poor growth of the plant. Potassium fertilizers do not need in clayey soils, while in sandy soils, even if potassium is present, it is not easily assimilated by the plant. Potassium-based fertilizers are used for certain plant species. Proper fertilization must provide a balanced ratio between essential minerals and microelements. Generally, compound fertilizers are already balanced, while simple fertilizers, i.e. composed of a single substance, are used for plant species that only need a specific element.
What are they for
Generally speaking, fertilizers are used to promote the healthy and luxuriant growth of plants. Each substance contained in fertilizers fulfills a specific function. Nitrogen promotes the growth of the plant and increases the availability of chlorophyll in the leaves. Phosphorus promotes flowering, root growth and improves fruit quality. Potassium makes the plant more resistant to pest attacks and makes the fruits tastier. A lack of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can cause slow growth, chlorosis of the leaves, poor plant development, necrosis and wilt. Fertilizers based on microelements, on the other hand, are used to promote plant reproduction, to produce and activate plant enzymes and to better fix nitrogen. There are also fertilizers, called corrective or correction, which serve to improve the quality of the soil and to make the essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, easily usable by the plant. The correction is carried out by modifying the pH of the soil which from acid can become basic or vice versa, or neutral. In acidic soils, the correction is made using lime, while in basic ones, by adding sulfur.
Chemical fertilizers formulations
Chemical fertilizers, i.e. those produced industrially, are marketed under specific formulations. They are usually liquid, water-soluble, granular, and foliar. Liquid fertilizers are used during fertigation, i.e. watering the plants in which water is also mixed the fertilizer liquid. Liquid fertilizers can contain both macro and microelements. The former, based on nitrogen, accompany the early stages of plant growth, while the latter allow to increase the availability and assimilation of other microelements present in the soil or added with other types of fertilizer. Water-soluble fertilizers dissolve easily in water and can also be used in fertigation. Water-soluble nitrogen fertilizers have the form of ammonium nitrate which allows immediate use of nitrogen, especially in cases where plant growth has been compromised by frosts, parasitic diseases or transplants. Water-soluble fertilizers can also be complex, that is, composed of mixtures of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. In these products, nitrogen can be in the form of nitrate, ammonia or urea; phosphorus, on the other hand, is in the form of urea, while potassium is in the form of nitrate. Nitrates have the disadvantage of polluting the aquifers, while the ammonia and urea formulations are released on the ground more gradually. Granular fertilizers come in the form of grains to be spread on the ground by hand, in the case of a small vegetable garden, or with fertilizer machines in the case of large cultivated areas. The mineral substances contained in these fertilizers are also released gradually. The foliar fertilizers are organomineral formulations, in fluid form, composed of chemical and natural substances that are applied on the leaves through fertigation. Calcium-based fertilizers are also produced with this formulation, which improves the yield and color of the fruit.
Organic fertilizers, also called biological ones, come exclusively from compounds existing in nature and are not subjected to any industrial processing treatment. Among the main organic fertilizers we mention manure, blood meal, wood ash, plant residues. Manure is nothing more than the dried manure of the excrement of animals, such as sheep, horses, cattle. Currently it is not easy to find fresh manure to use for crops, so you are forced to buy the processed one. In reality it is not industrial processing, so the product always remains organic, but is digested and humidified by the action of fungi and bacteria. The organic digestion process leads to the formation of humus which is dried and transformed into pellets or powdered compounds. Manure in bags can be easily purchased from fertilizer manufacturers. This product contains the right proportion of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium together with carbon, generally present in all organic compounds and absent in chemical fertilizers. Processed manure can be simple (with a single substance), complex (with several substances) or binary, i.e. with two substances. In addition to being environmentally friendly, manure also has a corrective or amending function, that is, it improves the characteristics of the soil in order to make the substances essential to the growth of the plant easily usable. The fertilizer derived from manure can be used for ornamental plants, fruit trees and vegetables. It is buried in winter on the surface of the soil or in depth before sowing. Manure in pellets can also be added in small quantities to ornamental plants in pots. Being a processed product, it is advisable to purchase the one with the wording that declares compliance with the law since the disposal of manure (due to the formation of nitrates in the aquifers) is polluting like chemical fertilizers.
Other organic fertilizers
Another organic fertilizer that has come back into vogue following the explosion of organic fashions is blood meal. This product comes from the blood of slaughtered animals. All the rivers of blood spilled during slaughter are dried, leading to the formation of an organic fertilizer very rich in nitrogen, but devoid of microelements useful for the plant, such as calcium and iron. Due to its pungent odor, this fertilizer should be planted as soon as possible. It is recommended to use it for flowering plants and vegetables, such as lettuce, artichokes and tomatoes. Another natural fertilizer is wood ash which, however, is devoid of nitrogen, but abounds in phosphorus and potassium and microelements useful for the development of the plant, such as zinc, calcium, fluorine. Blood meal should be mixed and balanced with an organic fertilizer containing nitrogen. In any case it can be used for tubers such as turnips and carrots and to correct acid soils. Due to its basicity, blood meal is not suitable for plants that grow in acid soils, while it can be used for lawns, roses and all fruit trees. Other organic fertilizers rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and microelements can be obtained by macerating the leaves of other plant species, such as nettle from which a liquid fertilizer is obtained that strengthens the plants and fights parasites.
Fertilizers for garden and vegetable garden plants
In the vegetable garden and in the garden, natural or chemical fertilizers can be used in granular formulation, that is, in the form of grains of sand or soil. These compounds can be spread both on the ground and in pots. Once added to the soil or pot, they allow good nutrition of the plant for about six months. The granular fertilizers are mixed with the soil during repotting or added to the soil in spring, in the case of garden fertilization. After adding the fertilizer, which must be placed at a depth of about 30 centimeters, irrigation must be carried out. All granular fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and slow-release microelements and in percentages that adapt to the type of plants grown. Roses can be fertilized with these products; geraniums; other flowering plants; acidophilic plants, such as azaleas, orchids, gardenias, hydrangeas and rhododendrons; turf and fruit trees. During the growth phase of the plants, the granular fertilizer must be added to the feet of the plants, distancing it from the stem.
Ranking of the best garden fertilizers
Consult the ranking of the best prices of garden fertilizers with different offers to choose from, according to the quality-price ratio.
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AGRA-VERMICULITE IN 100 LT BAGS
AGRA-VERMICULITE IN BAGS LT 100 Substance formed by aluminum silicates, Vermiculite is suitable for the cultivation of many plants in pots. [. ]
- Availability: Unavailable
€ 25.00 including VAT
BAYFOLAN LIQ. ACIDOFILE DA LT1 Liquid mineral fertilizer with a high nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) content and with microelements. It is indicated for [. ]
- Availability: Available
€ 7,40 VAT included
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