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Nutrient Source Specifics

Looking for brief information about the production, agricultural use, management practices, and chemical properties of common fertilizer materials? Nutrient Source Specifics are one-page fact sheets highlighting various fertilizers and nutrient sources. Written by IPNI scientific staff, these items are primarily for educational use by a non-technical audience. Consult with a local expert regarding specific recommendations on nutrient use. This series is also available in Chinese and Spanish.

 

Ammonia

NSS-10 Ammonia -This product is the starting point for most of the N fertilizer industry. It can be used directly or converted into a variety of common fertilizers. Special safety and management practices are required.

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Ammonium Nitrate

NSS-22 Ammonium Nitrate - Ammonium nitrate was the first solid nitrogen (N) fertilizer produced on a large scale, but its popularity has declined in recent years. It has been a common N source because it contains both nitrate and ammonium and it has a relatively high nutrient content.

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Ammonium Sulfate

NSS-12 Ammonium Sulfate - Ammonium sulfate (NH4)2 SO4 was one of the first and most widely used nitrogen (N) fertilizers for crop production. It is now less commonly used, but especially valuable where both N and sulfur (S) are required. Its high solubility provides versatility for a number of agricultural applications.

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Calcium Carbonate (Limestone)

NSS-18 Calcium Carbonate (Limestone) - Calcium carbonate, the chief component of limestone, is a widely used amendment to neutralize soil acidity and to supply calcium (Ca) for plant nutrition. The term “lime” can refer to several products, but for agricultural use it generally refers to ground limestone.

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Calcium Nitrate

NSS-27 Calcium nitrate is a highly soluble source of two plant nutrients. Its high solubility makes it popular for supplying an immediately available source of nitrate and calcium directly to soil, through irrigation water, or with foliar applications.

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Coated Fertilizer

NSS-20 Coated Fertilizer - A variety of coatings have been applied to fertilizer particles to control their solubility in soil. Controlling the rate of nutrient release can offer multiple environmental, economic, and yield benefits.

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Compound Fertilizer

NSS-4 Compound Fertilizer - Many soils require the addition of several essential nutrients to alleviate plant deficiencies. Farmers may have the option of selecting a combination of single-nutrient fertilizers or using a fertilizer that has several nutrients combined into each particle. These combination (compound or complex) fertilizers can offer advantages of convenience in the field, economic savings, and ease in meeting crop nutritional needs.

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Diammonium Phosphate

NSS-17 Diammonium Phosphate - Diammonium phosphate (DAP) is the world’s most widely used phosphorus (P) fertilizer. It is made from two common constituents in the fertilizer industry and it is popular because of its relatively high nutrient content and its excellent physical properties.

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Gypsum

NSS-16 Gypsum - Gypsum is a common mineral obtained from surface and underground deposits. It can be a valuable source of both calcium (Ca) and sulfur (S) for plants and may provide benefits for soil properties in specific conditions.

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Kieserite

NSS-23 Kieserite - Kieserite is a naturally occurring mineral that is chemically known as magnesium sulfate monohydrate (MgSO4.H2O). It is mined from geologic marine deposits and provides a soluble source of both Mg and S for plant nutrition.

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Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP)

NSS-9 Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP) - A widely used source of P and N, it is made of two constituents common in the fertilizer industry. MAP has the highest P content of any common solid fertilizer.

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Nitrification Inhibitors

NSS-26 Some compounds added to nitrogen (N) fertilizers can reduce the rate at which ammonium is converted to nitrate. Under appropriate conditions, this can help reduce N losses through denitrification and leaching.

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Nitrophosphate

NSS-15 Nitrophosphate - The production and application of nitrophosphate fertilizers is largely regional, its use centered where this technology is advantageous. The process uses nitric acid instead of sulfuric acid for treating phosphate rock and does not result in gypsum by-products.

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Phosphate Rock

NSS-19 Phosphate Rock - Phosphorus (P) additions are needed in most areas of the world to improve soil fertility and crop production. Direct application of unprocessed phosphate rock (PR) to soil may provide a valuable source of plant nutrients in specific conditions, but there are several factors and limitations to consider.

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Polyphosphate

NSS-2 Polyphosphate - Phosphorus deficiency limits the growth and productivity of plants in many parts of the world. Since many soils are low in P, this nutrient is commonly added to improve crop yield and quality. Phosphorus is derived from geologic deposits distributed across the globe. Polyphosphate is an excellent liquid fertilizer that is widely used in agriculture.

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Potassium Chloride

NSS-3 Potassium Chloride - Potassium fertilizers are commonly used to overcome plant deficiencies. Where soils cannot supply the amount of K required by crops, it is necessary to supplement this essential plant nutrient. Potash is a general term used to describe a variety of K-containing fertilizers used in agriculture. Potassium chloride (KCl), the most commonly used source, is also frequently referred to as muriate of potash or MOP (muriate is the old name for any chloride-containing salt). Potassium is always present in minerals as a single-charged cation (K+).

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Potassium Magnesium Sulfate (Langbeinite)

NSS-6 Potassium Magnesium Sulfate (Langbeinite) - Langbeinite is a unique source of plant nutrition since three essential nutrients are naturally combined into one mineral. It provides a readily available supply of K, Mg, and S to growing plants.

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Potassium Nitrate

NSS-11 Potassium Nitrate - Potassium nitrate (KNO3) is a soluble source of two major essential plant nutrients. It is commonly used as a fertilizer for high-value crops that benefit from nitrate (NO3-) nutrition and a source of potassium (K+) free of chloride (Cl-).

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Potassium Sulfate

NSS-5 Potassium Sulfate - Potassium fertilizer is commonly added to improve the yield and quality of plants growing in soils that are lacking an adequate supply of this essential nutrient. Most fertilizer K comes from ancient salt deposits located throughout the world. The word “potash” is a general term that most frequently refers to potassium chloride (KCl), but it also applies to all other K-containing fertilizers, such as potassium sulfate (K2SO4 , commonly referred to as sulfate of potash or SOP).

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Single Superphosphate

NSS-21 Single Superphosphate - Single superphosphate (SSP) was the first commercial mineral fertilizer and it led to the development of the modern plant nutrient industry. This material was once the most commonly used fertilizer, but other phosphorus (P) fertilizers have largely replaced SSP because of its relatively low P content.

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Sodium Nitrate

NSS-24 Sodium Nitrate - Sodium nitrate was one of the first commercially available inorganic nitrogen (N) fertilizers. It was very important in plant nutrition before of the discovery of ammonia synthesis by the Haber-Bosch process in the early 1900’s. Sodium nitrate is a naturally occurring mined product, and as such is used to provide a portion of N nutrition in some organic cropping systems.

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Sulfur

NSS-13 Sulfur - Sulfur (S) is widely distributed throughout the world in many forms. In some soils, there is insufficient S to meet crop needs. There are many excellent S-containing fertilizer products that can be used to address deficiencies where they occur.

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Thiosulfate

NSS-8 Thiosulfate - This soluble liquid fertilizer provides a soluble source of S and other nutrients including ammonium, K, Ca, or Mg.

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Triple Super Phosphate

NSS-14 Triple Super Phosphate - Triple superphosphate (TSP) was one of the first high analysis P fertilizers that became widely used in the 20th century. Technically, it is known as calcium dihydrogen phosphate and as monocalcium phosphate, Ca(H2PO4)2.H2O . It is an excellent P source, but its use has declined as other P fertilizers have become more popular.

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Urea

NSS-1 Urea - is the most widely used solid N fertilizer in the world. Urea is also commonly found in nature since it is expelled in the urine of animals. The high N content of urea makes it efficient to transport to farms and apply to fields. Urea is the most widely used solid N fertilizer in the world.

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Urea Ammonium Nitrate

NSS-7 Urea Ammonium Nitrate - Liquid fertilizer solutions or fluid fertilizers are popular in many areas because they are safe to handle, convenient to mix with other nutrients and chemicals, and are easily applied. A solution of urea CO(NH2)2 and ammonium nitrate NH4NO3 containing between 28 and 32% N is the most popular N fluid fertilizer.

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