A farmer's living is dependent upon the yield of his crop. Effective fertilization methods can produce more plentiful and healthier crops. Understanding which methods work best is an important part of successful farming.
Just like humans need nutrients and minerals, so do plants. Fertilization can produce a healthier crop that is able to withstand the effects of crop diseases and pests.
Chemical and Organic
Crop fertilization can be achieved by using chemical or organic fertilizers. Most chemical fertilizers are composed of a combination of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen. Organic fertilizers include compost, manure, grass clippings or decaying leaves. A benefit of chemical fertilizers is that they work quickly, while organic fertilizers may be better for the environment.
Fertilizers are expensive. A farmer must consider the amount of fertilizer that will be required for his particular crop. Some crops, such as corn, require a greater amount of fertilizer than other row crops.
A farmer's soil should be analyzed for pH balance, phosphorus and potassium levels. A soil that is already rich with these will not need fertilizer containing these ingredients.
In America, all states have fertilizer regulatory programs protecting consumers and regulating quality standards. Most programs are administered by the state department of agriculture.