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Fertilisers are like magic potions for farms that help to increase the amount of crops that are produced. They come in two types, natural and artificial. Plants use minerals like nitrates to grow, but when they are harvested, these minerals are taken away too. This is a problem because if the minerals aren't put back into the soil, the crops won't grow as well. Fertilisers are the solution to this problem. They contain important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that are needed for crops to grow. Nitrogen helps to make amino acids and chlorophyll which are important for plant growth. Phosphorous is needed for making DNA and RNA, and potassium helps plant enzymes work properly. So fertilisers are super important for farmers who want to get the most out of their crops! And if you're studying agriculture or farming, you'll definitely want to learn more about fertilisers.

Types of fertilisers

Fertilisers are substances that can be added to to help crops better. There are two main types of fertilisers - natural and artificial. Natural fertilisers are made from organic materials like animal manure while artificial fertilisers are made in a lab. Both types of fertilisers contain important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that are needed for plants to grow. By adding these nutrients to the soil, farmers can increase the amount of crops that they produce. So whether you're a farmer or just interested in agriculture, it's important to know about the different types of fertilisers and how they work.

Natural (organic) fertilisers

Fertilisers come in different types, and one of them is natural fertilisers. Natural fertilisers consist of dead or decomposing organic matter from plants and animals like animal waste (manure). Unlike artificial fertilisers, organic fertilisers usually have a single ingredient. There are three main types of organic fertilisers - plant-based, animal-based and mineral-based fertilisers.

Plant-based fertil are essential for soil conditioning. They improve the soil's physical qualities such as fertility, ability to drain water and moisture retention. Examples of plant-based fertilisers include alfalfa meal, compost and kelp meal.

Animal-based fertilisers contain dead animal parts and refuse. They add large amounts of nitrogen to the soil, which is important for the growth of leafy plants. Examples of animal-based fertilisers include fish emulsion, bone meal, urea (urine) and manure.

Mineral-based fertilisers can add nutrients to the soil and lower the pH. Examples of mineral-based fertilisers include calcium, Epsom salts (magnesium and sulfur) and glacial and basalt rock dust.

It's essential to use fertilisers in the right quantities, as too much nitrogen can cause nitrogen burn, which scorches the plant leaves. Fertilisers can also cause nutrient runoff or leaching, which leads to the accumulation of excess nutrients in water bodies. So, using the right fertilisers in the right amounts is essential for healthy plants and a healthy environment.

Artificial (inorganic) fertilisers

Artificial fertilisers are chemical compounds that mimic natural minerals for optimal plant growth in the soil. They have higher concentrations of compounds and faster release rates than natural fertilisers. There are three main groups of artificial fertilisers - fast-release fertilisers, slow-release fertilisers and gaseous fertilisers.

Fast-release fertilisers are usually dissolved in water, and the fertiliser is watered onto the soil. They release their nutrients quickly, making them ideal for crops that require a rapid boost of nutrients. However, they can also lead to nutrient runoff and leaching, which can cause environmental problems like eutrophication.

Slow-release fertilisers have active compounds coated with a layer that does not immediately dissolve when it contacts water. They are used to avoid chemical burn, including nitrogen burn, which can occur when too much nitrogen is added to the soil. Slow-release fertilisers provide nutrients gradually to the plants, making them ideal for long-term plant growth. They are also less likely to cause nutrient runoff and leaching, making them more environmentally friendly.

Gaseous fertilisers are most commonly used in commercial agriculture. Anhydrous ammonia is the most widely used as is very nitrogenaseous into soil, where they react with moisture to form ammonium ions that plants can use. They are fast-acting and provide a quick boost of nutrients to crops. However, they are also highly volatile and can be dangerous to handle.

It is important to use artificial fertilisers in the right amounts and at the right time to avoid causing harm to the environment. Overuse of artificial fertilisers can lead to soil degradation, water pollution and eutrophication, which can have serious environmental consequences. So, when using artificial fertilisers, it is crucial to follow recommended guidelines and use them responsibly for the best results.

Comparison between the natural and artificial fertilisers

The comparison between natural and artificial fertilisers
The comparison between natural and artificial fertilisers

The process of fertilisation

Fertilisation in agriculture refers to applying fertilisers to the soil or land. Soil fertility will depend on the cycling of the nutrients between their organic and inorganic forms.

Natural nutrient cycling and fertilisation of the soil

During the natural cycling of nutrients, microorganisms play a crucial role in breaking down organic matter and providing inorganic nutrient forms to plants. Earthworms also play a vital role in distributing the organic matter within the soil, and their burrows help to aerate the soil, allowing for better air and water flow.

As organic matter decomposes, it becomes humus, which is the organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays. Humus is a stable form of organic matter that is thoroughly broken down by microorganisms, and it provides nutrients to plants in a slow-release form.

Humus also improves soil structure by making it more porous, allowing for easier air and water flow. This makes it easier for plant roots to access nutrients and moisture. Additionally, humus can act as a sponge, retaining nutrients that plants can access when they need them.

Overall, the natural cycling of nutrients through the breakdown of organic matter and the formation of humus is an essential process for maintaining healthy soils and promoting plant growth. It is important to maintain healthy levels of organic matter in soil by using natural fertilisers and avoiding overuse of artificial fertilisers, which can disrupt this delicate balance.

Chemical fertilisers and soil quality

Chemical minerals are commonly used in agriculture to improve plant growth, but they can have negative effects on soil health. Unlike natural minerals, chemical nutrients added to the soil do not require microorganisms to make them accessible to plants. Instead, they are dissolved when they come into contact with water.

Fertilisers containing chemical minerals can lead to an increase in soil acidity, which can have adverse effects on soil health. This can result in a decrease in microorganisms and earthworms, which are essential for the decomposition of organic matter. The increased acidity of the soil makes conditions unfavorable for some decomposers, and as a result, the production of humus, which is essential for soil fertility, is reduced.

Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts for biological reactions in living organisms. They play a crucial role in many biological processes, including the decomposition of organic matter in soil. However, in acidic soil conditions, the activity of decomposers that work at a neutral soil pH is drastically reduced, which can lead to a reduction in soil fertility.

To maintain healthy soil, it is important to use natural fertilisers and avoid overuse of chemical fertilisers. This will help to maintain a balance of nutrients in the soil and promote the growth of microorganisms and earthworms, which are essential for soil health. Additionally, by promoting a healthy level of enzymes in the soil, the decomposition of organic matter can be improved, leading to an increase in humus production and overall soil fertility.

Natural soil renewal

While nitrogen-containing fertilisers can increase plant growth and crop yield, they can also have adverse effects on the environment. When these fertilisers are applied in excess, they can lead to the overgrowth of algae in bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers. This overgrowth, known as eutrophication, can lead to a depletion of oxygen in the water, causing harm organisms and negatively impacting the overall health of the ecosystem.

Additionally, the use of nitrogen-containing fertilisers can lead to the release of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. This occurs when the fertilisers are not fully absorbed by the plants, and the excess nitrogen is converted into nitrous oxide by soil bacteria.

Furthermore, the production of nitrogen-containing fertilisers is energy-intensive and requires the use of large amounts of fossil fuels. This results in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

To mitigate these environmental issues, it is essential to use nitrogen-containing fertilisers in moderation and to adopt sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation and the use of natural fertilisers, to maintain soil health and promote sustainable agriculture.

Reduced species diversity

Increased nutrient concentration will favour fast-growing plants, which can outcompete slower-growing and smaller species by blocking sunlight.


Leaching is the process by which essential nutrients are lost from the upper layer of soil. Artificial fertilisers will have inorganic ions that readily dissolve in the water. Nutrients are often washed by the rain and end up in water bodies. Nutrient runoffs can cause eutrophication.


Eutrophication is the harmful accumulation of nutrients in water bodies. In rivers and lakes, nitrate and nitrite ions usually occur in low concentrations and limit algae and plant growth. As the nutrient concentration increases, the upper layer of water will become concentrated with algae, known as an algal bloom. Algal bloom limits the light permeating the upper layers of the water and causes plants and algae underneath to die.

 The process of eutrophication
The process of eutrophication

Limiting factors are resources that control the growth of organisms, and when they become scarce, the rate of growth decreases. In aquatic ecosystems, the growth of aerobes can be limited by the availability of oxygen. The decomposition of organic matter by saprobiotic bacteria creates a higher oxygen demand, which can cause oxygen to become a limiting factor for aerobic organisms in the water. This can lead to the proliferation of anaerobic organisms that do not require oxygen to survive.

Fertilisers are substances used in agriculture to enhance the nutrient content of soil. Synthetic fertilisers are commonly used in commercial agriculture because they provide quick-release nutrients. However, they can be harmful to the environment due to issues such as leaching, reduced species diversity, and eutrophication. Natural fertilisers, on the other hand, are better for the environment, but their breakdown takes longer due to their organic content.

Fertilisation is a process where nutrients are added to the soil by fertilisers. Synthetic fertilisers can speed up the growth of crops, but they can also have negative impacts on the environment. It is important to use fertilisers in moderation and to adopt sustainable farming practices, such as crop rotation and the use of natural fertilisers, to maintain soil health and promote sustainable agriculture.


What is the importance of a fertiliser?

Fertilisers are extremely important in agriculture. When plants are removed, the nutrients taken up by the plant will be removed. Fertilisers are used to add inorganic ions back into the soil.

What are the 5 differences between manure and fertilisers?

Manure is organic matter made from animal and plant waste.Artificial fertilisers are chemical compounds made to mimic natural ones in the soil.Manure adds humus to the soil to maintain its structure whereas artificial fertilisers will only add the inorganic ions.Manure does not readily dissolve in water so plants will absorb nutrients slowly whereas fertilisers are taken up immediately when dissolved.Fertilisers are usually rich in one nutrient such as nitrogen and phosphorus, while manure will have a wider range of nutrients. 

What are fertilisers in biology?

Fertilisers can be defined as the substances that are widely used in agriculture to increase crop productivity. There are two types of fertilisers - natural and artificial.

What are the 4 types of fertilisers?

The four types include:Nitrogen-containing fertilisersPhosphate-containing fertilisersPotassium-containing fertilisersCompounds fertilisers with multiple nutrients in them.

What nutrients are in a fertiliser?

Most fertilisers commonly used in agriculture will contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

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