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Nitrogen fertilizer

Nitrogen fertilizer is the straight fertilizer providing the element of N and the most needed fertilizer in agricultural production.

As the essential constituent of proteins, N is involved in all the major processes of plant development, and plays important

roles in the increase of crop yield and improvement of crop quality.

Phosphate fertilizer

Phosphate fertilizer is the straight fertilizer providing the element of P. P is essential for photosynthesis and other chemico-

physiological. P is also indispensable for cell differentiation, as well as for the development of the tissues that form a plant's

growing points.

Potash fertilizer

Potash fertilizer is the straight fertilizer providing the element of K. K plays a vital part in carbohydrate and protein synthesis.

It improves a plant's water regime and increases tolerance to drought and frost. Plants that are well supplied with K are less

affected by disease.

Straight fertilizer

Fertilizer containing only one fertilizer nutrient (N, P or K).

Binary fertilizers

Any fertilizer containing two of the nutrients N, P and K.

Compound fertilizer

Material containing two or three of the primary nutrients N, P and K.

NPK compound (ternary compound)

Compound containing all three of the primary nutrients N, P and K.

NPK ratio

The ratio of the contents of fertilizer nutrients in a fertilizer, e.g. a fertilizer with analysis 12-12-18 has a 1-1-1.5 ratio. Expressed

in terms of N, P or P2O5 and K or K2O depending on local legislation.



A product based on microbial inoculants or organic growth stimulants.

Chelated fertilizer

Fertilizer in which one or more trace elements are held by complex organic molecules (chelating agents) and are gradually

released, thus prolonging the period of plant availability.

Coated fertilizer

A fertilizer in which the particles are covered by a layer of a different substance; thin layers are used to prevent moisture

pick-up or caking and thicker layers or less permeable materials to delay or prolong the release of nutrients.

Slow release fertilizer

A fertilizer which releases nutrients over a period of time; slow release: gradual release over much or all of the growth

period ; controlled release: a delayed release of plant nutrients some time after application. (For example, sulphur coated

urea, IBDU etc.).

Fertilizer nutrient

In most countries, N, P and K, but sometimes including other nutrients supplied in fertilizers, e.g. Mg, S.

Major nutrients (primary nutrients)

N, P and K; the three nutrients required by plants in large or moderate amounts and which it is the main purpose of fertilizers

to supply.

Micronutrients(trace elements, oligo-elements)

B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn - nutrients required by plants in very small quantities.

Secondary nutrient

Ca, Mg, S : nutrients other than N, P, K required in moderate or large amounts by plants.


Basal dressing (base dressing)

Fertilizer (usually P and K) applied before establishment of a crop or orchard to provide for its needs over a season or period of years.


Application not followed by incorporation, usually to grassland or an established crop.


General term for putting fertilizer on fields, crops, grassland, forests etc.

Application rate

Weight of fertilizer (for liquids often volume) applied per unit area.

Balanced fertilization

The application of nutrients in proportions best suited to the needs of the crop taking account of the amounts of each

supplied by the soil.

Precision farming

The modification of soil and crop management according to the different conditions found within the field.