What is a fertilizer: what is it for and what types are there

A fertilizer is a substance that contains the nutrients necessary for vegetables

We talk a lot about the importance of taking care of plants and crops: irrigation, pruning, fertilization… But what exactly is fertilizer? Why is it? If you are not entirely clear, I recommend that you continue reading, because we will answer both questions.

In this article, we will tell you what a fertilizer is and what it is used for. In addition, We will talk about the different types and what are its main advantages. I hope you find this information useful and interesting!


What is fertilizer and what is it used for?

Fertilizer is a material whose main function is to supply nutrients to plants.

Let’s start by answering the main question: what is a fertilizer? It is any substance, organic or inorganic, which contains the nutrients necessary for plants in a form assimilable by them. In addition, they can have more effects, such as increasing or at least maintaining the nutrient content of the soil, increasing the quality of the substrate or promoting plant growth, among others. Some examples of ecological or natural fertilizers are popular manure, mixed and made with various agricultural wastes, such as fodder, and guano, which is formed by the droppings of various birds.

It must be said that vegetables do not need complex compounds, such as amino acids or vitamins that are essential for humans, but they themselves synthesize what they need. There are a total of 17 chemical elements that need to be introduced in a way that plants can absorb them, like nitrogen. This can be administered in the form of ammonium compounds, pure ammonia, urea or nitrates. All these means have the same effectiveness.

There is a definition of fertilizers established by the European fertilizer regulations, and it is as follows: “Material whose main function is to supply nutrients to plants”. When we add fertilizer to the soil, this action is called “fertilization”. Along with amendments, fertilizers are part of the so-called fertilizing products. At this point, it should be noted that fertilizer is not the same as manure. If you want to know the subtle difference between the two concepts, take a look at this article: Differences Between Manure and Fertilizer.

Fertilizers have been used since ancient times. In the past, different elements were added to the floor:

  • Bone phosphates, which may or may not be calcined.
  • Potassium from the ashes.
  • Nitrogen from animal and human waste.

What are the three types of fertilizer?

There are different types of fertilizers.

Now that we know what a fertilizer is, we can say that, generally, we distinguish above all three different types. However, Fertilizers can be classified into four groups, or even five if you include biofertilizers. Let’s see what they are:

  • Inorganic fertilizers: As their name suggests, these fertilizers are not made from organic materials. Its production is carried out industrially. To do this, certain components are transformed into a kind of nutrient solution for the vegetables, through a chemical process. This type of fertilizer has a great advantage, it is that the nutrients they provide can be used immediately by the plants. Some of them are made directly from the main nutrients of the earth: phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen.
  • Organic fertilizers: Unlike the previous ones, these are made from organic matter. These come mainly from plant and/or animal remains. The participation of the human being during the creation of this type of fertilizer is very low, if any. Organic fertilizers have many advantages, the main one being the positive effect they have on the structure and composition of the soil. An example widely used in agriculture is manure.
  • Organo-mineral fertilizers: These fertilizers are produced from organic materials, but nutrients of mineral origin are also added during manufacturing. Its main advantage is that it brings together nutrients and organic matter for cultivation in a single product.
  • Seaweed, humic extracts and amino acids: Seaweed is a type of organic fertilizer that not only improves the soil, but also stimulates cultivation in a sustainable way. As for humic extracts, they are also organic and stimulate soil fertility. Finally, amino acids help improve stressed crops because they allow plants to feed more easily using less energy.

What are biofertilizers?

We have already discussed what a fertilizer is and what types there are, but more recently biofertilizers have started to be widely used in agriculture. But, what are they exactly? Well, basically these are products that consist of certain microorganisms, among which, above all, there are bacteria and fungi. These compounds help improve soil quality and increase the amount of nutrients for the plant. Ultimately: The application of biofertilizers increases crop yields.

There are many advantage offered by this type of fertilizer, but the most notable are:

  • Increases soil fertility and biodiversity.
  • Help protect the environment.
  • It contributes to the fixation of carbon in the soil and the absorption of water.
  • This makes agricultural crops more sustainable.
  • It favors the organic matter present in the soil.

However, there is another product through which we can achieve the same goals: Soil activators. Although they do not bring living organisms to the soil, they increase the presence of fungi and bacteria that are already naturally found in the soil.

As you can see, the world of fertilizers is quite large, and the market gives us several options to choose from. These mixtures or compounds are of great help to enrich the soil and achieve better plant development. While it is true that each case is unique, the most advisable thing is to always opt for sustainable solutions to contribute to the protection of the environment and our planet.

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