Requirements for Good Fertilizer

Hello all,

I am an engineering major at the University of Illinois in the United States. I am in my senior year and have a project that involves fertilizing many different types of plant-life and crops. So my question is this: in your experience, what do you look for in a fertilizer? I understand that the answers to this can vary a lot depending on what is being fertilized and what area you reside in so any of that information is welcome. In the end I would like to make a chart of what fertilizer should be used in what situation.

I do not want to limit this so anything that you all may think is important to note is exactly what I am looking for. Thanks in advance, I look forward to hearing back from you all.
 
Soil testing will tell you the nutrient status of each individual field and fert applications canbe adjusted accordingly. As such I haven't a clue how you can make a chart of what fert is needed in differing situations.

You can of course make a chart of what individual crops require for optimum growth and use soil tests to see what additional fert is needed to supply that crops requirements but that isn't quite the same as a chart of what to put on each crop.
 

PostHarvest

Member
Location
Warwick
You also need to look at the qualities of the fertiliser material itself. Ideally the particles should flow easily and not become lodged in the hopper of the spreading machine. They also need to be robust to withstand the impact of hitting a spinning disc that throws them out to 30 or 36 metres (thats 100 or 120 feet to you guys) without disintegrating to dust.
 

septimus

Member
Location
Kingdom of Fife
I want a fertiliser to be a uniform product, not lumpy or dusty. It shouldn't be wet at damp. It should be as stated if it's 34% nitrogen that is what i want, i want the nutrients to be in a form that is available to the plants not locked up. I don't want it to contain any nasty's like heavy metals, And i want it £10 a tonne cheaper than next door paid for it.
 

Brisel

Member
Arable Farmer
Location
North Yorkshire
Hello all,

I am an engineering major at the University of Illinois in the United States. I am in my senior year and have a project that involves fertilizing many different types of plant-life and crops. So my question is this: in your experience, what do you look for in a fertilizer? I understand that the answers to this can vary a lot depending on what is being fertilized and what area you reside in so any of that information is welcome. In the end I would like to make a chart of what fertilizer should be used in what situation.

I do not want to limit this so anything that you all may think is important to note is exactly what I am looking for. Thanks in advance, I look forward to hearing back from you all.
What is your angle on this? If it's just engineering then talking about soil biology probably isn't going to interest you.
  1. Nutrients. nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulphur, magnesium, calcium etc. How many of these are needed at the same time?
  2. When will it be applied? Before sowing - could be bulk commodities of chicken manure ash, compost, farmyard manure, sewage cake, lime. I'd want low ground pressure vehicles that won't damage the soil structure. After sowing - tramline/rowcrop work. I need a granular or prilled form that I can either broadcast to 30 metres from a disc spreader or a liquid to go through the sprayer.
  3. Crop height which will determine the machine applying it.
  4. Scale determines what size of machine is necessary. I run 2500 acres so have a wide boom sprayer for most of my fertiliser as liquid. P, K, Mg I apply as separate passes usually before planting crops. Top dressing directly onto the growing crop in spring is ususally a blend of N and S. A small grassland farmer will probably use manures topped up with lower grades of bagged fertiliser at much narrower widths. They are more likely to use a blend that provides a greater number of nutirents in one pass.
  5. Adding fertiliser to irrigation water is less common. Our temparate maritime climate means only high value crops like vegetables are irrigated plus we have very strict laws on contaminating rivers etc with fertiliser, manures, pesticides etc.
  6. Europe uses a lot of ammonium nitrate as well as the more common urea. Ammonia/anhydrous is very rare here. Incorporating/injecting fertiliser into the soil is less common here too.
 
Thanks a ton, everyone! I will be using these answers, and my own research, to complete my goal. I appreciate all of the help. If anyone new has anything to put, please do not be discouraged from doing so! :)
 

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