In order for a plant to grow and thrive, it needs a number of different chemical elements. The most important are:
- Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen – Available from air and water and therefore in plentiful supply
- Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (a.k.a. potash) – The three macronutrients and the three elements you find in most packaged fertilizers
- Sulfur, calcium, and magnesium – Secondary nutrients
- Boron, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc – MicronutrientsThe most important of these (the ones that are needed in the largest quantity）
The most important of these (the ones that are needed in the largest quantity by a plant) are nitrogen（N）, phosphorus（P） and potassium（K）.
What is NPK fertilizer?
NPK is short for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K), which are the three major elements in this kind of fertilizer. They are essential for plant growth and increase the fertility of the soil lacking these macronutrients. NPK fertilizer bags have number values that list the ratio of Nitrogen to Phosphorus to Potassium. These can be laid out as such: 10-10-10 or 10-8-20 or any other three-pronged combination. Why is this important? We’ll find out soon!
How does NPK benefit the plant?
Nitrogen helps in plant growth and development. It also positively affects the quality of leaves, seeds, and fruits. Finally, Nitrogen is a crucial component of chlorophyll, which not only gives the plants their green color but also helps out in photosynthesis.
Phosphorus, on the other hand, plays a significant role in the development of plant oils, sugars and starch. During the process of photosynthesis, it is phosphorus that aids in the transformation of solar energy into chemical energy. Also, phosphorus not only encourages the growth of roots and blooming but also helps plants to withstand stress.
Potassium fertilizer is the third cog that completes the NPK trio. It is essential to plant growth and is greatly active during the process of photosynthesis. It is responsible for producing good quality fruits as well. Potassium builds up a store of protein in the plant and also helps prevent diseases and increases plant immunity.
How to use NPK fertilizer
Before you use any fertilizer, you need to check your soil type, check its pH level and check which are the nutrients that it has, and it is lacking. This will help you get the right ratio with your fertilizer. Try organic methods like compost first and use fertilizers as add-ons to this.
Don’t have random patterns of fertilizer usage or don’t use odd (too much or too less) amounts. Instead, create a schedule listing your plants’ needs and use fertilizer a little more sparingly.
Keep the soil aerated for a high percolation rate so that these nutrients reach all your plants in an even manner and spread out throughout the soil.
To make sure that your efforts count, ensure that there is always a fixed thought process behind the use of NPK fertilizers!