Natural Indian Minerals
Fertilizer Minerals

A fertilizer is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soils or to plant tissues (usually leaves) to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. The public perception of mineral fertilizers often takes no account of these simple facts. Three plant nutrients have to be applied in large quantities, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Sulphur, calcium and magnesium also are required in substantial amounts. Fertilizers enhance the growth of plants. This goal is met in two ways, the traditional one being additives that provide nutrients. The second mode by some fertilizers act is to enhance the effectiveness of the soil by modifying its water retention and aeration.

During the last four decades, with the emphasis on agricultural production in India, increased attention was given to the manufacture of chemical fertilizers. The fertilizer plants use the raw materials both from natural sources and from the chemical materials. Gypsum, pyrite and rock phosphates form the principal mineral sources. While the first two find extensive use in the manufacture of sulfate fertilizers, the rock phosphates are mainly utilized in the production of phosphate fertilizer. Fertilizers typically provide, in varying proportions. three main macronutrients: Nitrogen (N): leaf growth; Phosphorus (P): Development of roots, flowers, seeds, fruit; Potassium (K): Strong stem growth, movement of water in plants, promotion of flowering and fruiting; three secondary macronutrients: calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulphur (S); micronutrients: copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), zinc (Zn), boron (B), and of occasional significance there are silicon (Si), cobalt (Co), and vanadium (V) plus rare mineral catalysts.

The nutrients required for healthy plant life are classified according to the elements, but the elements are not used as fertilizers. Instead compounds containing these elements are the basis of fertilisers. The macronutrients are consumed in larger quantities and are present in plant tissue in quantities from 0.15% to 6.0% on a dry matter (DM) (0% moisture) basis. Plants are made up of four main elements: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are widely available as water and carbon dioxide. Although nitrogen makes up most of the atmosphere, it is in a form that is unavailable to plants. Nitrogen is the most important fertilizer since nitrogen is present in proteins, DNA and other components. To be nutritious to plants, nitrogen must be made available in a "fixed" form. Only some bacteria and their host plants (notably legumes) can fix atmospheric nitrogen (N2) by converting it to ammonia. Phosphate is required for the production of DNA and ATP, the main energy carrier in cells, as well as certain lipids. Micronutrients are consumed in smaller quantities and are present in plant tissue on the order of parts-per-million (ppm), ranging from 0.15 to 400 ppm DM, or less than 0.04% DM. These elements are often present at the active sites of enzymes that carry out the plant's metabolism. Because these elements enable catalysts (enzymes) their impact far exceeds their weight percentage.

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