Fertiliser – What to Look For

” You need to whack a bit of fertiliser on that …” a statement that may or may not be true. However, fertilisers vary enormously in their make up. Putting the wrong one on can at best be completely ineffective, and at worst kill the plants you want to help.

So what are we looking to get from a general fertiliser?

Firstly, whether it is an artificial fertiliser of an organic one.

Artificial or Inorganic Fertilisers

The point of a fertiliser is to supply extra nutrients for the plant to use. These comprise in general terms of Nitrogen, Phosphorous or Phosphate and Potash. These should be displayed on a container as percentages of N, P and K in this fashion ….. 10-10-10. This represents 10% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphate and 10% Potash. This picture shows what an average granular fertiliser looks like. 10% of all nutrients obviously therefore gives the same values of each and a general fertiliser might be OK for an initial addition during the season. However the 3 different ingredients that make up a fertiliser benefit different plant requirements, and therefore might not be appropriate at that dosage in some situations.

Natural Fertiliser – in this case FYM, or Farm Yard Manure

Animal Manure is of course a natural product. As such it is perhaps no surprise that it’s values are substantially smaller.
Cow manure has an NPK % value of 0.6-0.4-0.5.
Horse manure’s value is 0.7-0.3-0.6.
Interestingly, one of the highest animal manure values is that of Rabbit, which is 2.4-1.4-0.6.

If you make your own garden compost from garden waste etc., it’s values are likely to be 0.5-0.27-0.81.

So it can be clearly seen that animal manures are nothing like as potent as some artificial fertiliser. Nor can they deliver specific nutrients like and artificial fertiliser can. However, they can and will improve the health of the soil because they introduce organic matter the soil-bourn life can feed off, which then goes on to improve the soil structure, which in turn benefits nutrient up take, root growth, the increase of oxygen in the soil and improved drainage. An inorganic or artificial fertiliser cannot and will not do that.