Nitrogen Fertilizer: An Essential Nutrient for your Plants

Holy basil plant in fertile soil with chemical fertilizer

Nitrogen is very important for the growth of plants. Nitrogen is readily available in nature for the plants to thrive, but very few plants are able to convert nitrogen from the environment.

To compensate for this, nitrogen fertilizers are used to improve the quality of the soil.

What is a Nitrogen Fertilizer and How Important is it for the Growth of Plants?

Nitrogen fertilizer is an inorganic fertilizer containing compounds like ammonium nitrate. It is a compound that is added to the soil to stimulate the growth of plants.

It plays a very important role in the process of photosynthesis. Leaves of plants with less nitrogen levels eventually turn yellow and die.

By adding nitrogen fertilizer you can produce a lush green garden with healthy plants.

How is Nitrogen Fertiliser Produced?

Nitrogen fertilizer is produced by a process known as the Haber process. It is a chemical process developed by Fritz Haber a German scientist which takes gaseous hydrogen and nitrogen to produce ammonia. This is then broken down or processed to nitrous compounds, which is perfect for plants to absorb from the soil.

This inorganic fertilizer is available in liquid and a dry pellets form.

Ammonia nitrate fertilizer can be used in household gardens as well as for commercial farmlands. One third of the commercials crops are grown using nitrogen fertilizers like maize, soybean and barley.

Golf courses around the world also are a major user of nitrogen fertilizers.
Nitrogen fertilizers also help in keeping the soil nutrients intact and protect crops and plants against diseases and weeds by keeping them healthy.

It makes up for any deficiency in the soil especially when the same crop is repeated every season.

Which Type of Nitrogen Fertilizer Should One Use?

There are two types of urea nitrogen used for plants.

  • One is organic or natural nitrogen made from compost containing low nitrogen fertilizer and
  • The other is synthesized commercial nitrogen fertilizer in the form of ammonia nitrate.

Ammonia based fertilizers absorb quickly into the soil and the nitrogen is released slowly into the plants while the nitrate based fertilizers are quickly absorbed by the plants and can be easily be leached away by water.

Natural or organic nitrogen takes longer for the plants to get absorbed as compared to the commercial nitrogen, but it is harder to monitor.

Widespread use of commercial nitrogen fertilizers has resulted in groundwater contamination in some areas around the world, in some places it has turned into a major environmental pollutant. It is very important to know exactly how much to use

Nitrogen fertilizers can be harmful to the environment; hence proper application is extremely important.

So how do we Decide the Exact Amount of Fertilizer to Use?

This can be achieved by simply dividing the amount of desired nitrogen by the percentage of nitrogen in the bag of fertilizer. For lawns it is roughly one pound of nitrogen fertiliser for a 1000 square feet lawn.

Apply them at the right time and season.

Organic nitrogen is a slow release fertilise, generally lawn fertilizers have a balance of fast and slow release.

Remember, the higher the nitrogen percent the lesser the product needed.

Organic or synthetic fertilizers, have less likely to burn grass as they contain a less percent of nitrogen.

Organic nitrogen depends on soil microbes to convert it into nitrogen for plants.

Nitrogen is very important for any plant growth and it is also very important to add only the required amount of nitrogen to improve growth of plants and also only apply according to the plants needs. Anything in excess is not good for your plants.

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