Potassium, which is usually included in fertilizers.
The name “inorganic fertilizer” may suggest that the fertilizer is unnatural. In fact, this type of fertilizer also contains natural compounds. The difference is that the formula is assembled in a refinery, and not composed by nature as with organic fertilizers. For example, manure is a type of organic fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizer also contains beneficial chemical and mineral deposits and provides the nutrients needed for growing plants. This type of fertilizer can be purchased at most garden supply stores.
A farmer spreading fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizer, which is usually reasonably priced, consists of mineral-based nutrients manufactured for immediate application to crops. Unlike the organic variety, inorganic fertilizer does not have to break down over time to provide nutrients to plants. Most inorganic fertilizers contain balanced amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to feed plants and promote growth. These substances are usually derived from chemical processes such as urea, ammonium sulfate, and calcium nitrate. Mined deposits of potash, phosphate rock and lime can also be processed as an inorganic fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizers typically contain nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus to feed plants and promote growth.
Some gardeners find inorganic fertilizers useful for saving malnourished plants because the mixture of phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen can provide instant treatment. Overall, the nutrients in inorganic fertilizer help nourish a plant’s roots, stems, buds, leaves, and flowers. Depending on the crop, these fertilizers must be applied at least twice in a given growing season for effective plant growth. Gardeners often use their hands or a gardening applicator to evenly distribute the chemical fertilizer over the soil, according to the package instructions. Fertilizing with spreaders or other tools ensures that the plants get equal amounts of nutrients from the inorganic fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizers offer some advantages such as affordability, convenience and effectiveness in plant nutrition. Disadvantages also apply when using chemical-based fertilizers. For example, a process known as leeching occurs from excess water. Too much water causes the fertilizer to be removed, depriving plants of some of their vital nutrients.
Another problem can arise when a gardener uses too much inorganic fertilizer. In addition to the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the fertilizer also contains other chemicals and salts. Salts and compounds that mix with nutrients often accumulate in the soil rather than being taken up by plant roots. The buildup eventually becomes toxic and poses a threat to human health if it contaminates groundwater supplies.
Adding too much inorganic fertilizer also burns or kills the plants and their roots. It is important to add the exact amount to the soil and refrain from applying fertilizer to any part of the plants. Overall, experts note that inorganic fertilizer offers as many benefits as organic fertilizer. It is generally safe to use as long as the gardener follows the instructions.