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WikiProject icon Fertilizer is included in the Wikipedia CD Selection, see Fertilizer at Schools Wikipedia. Please maintain high quality standards; if you are an established editor your last version in the article history may be used so please don't leave the article with unresolved issues, and make an extra effort to include free images, because non-free images cannot be used on the DVDs.



Hi everyone, I arrived here looking for urea briquettes but couldn't find the term. So I think I'm going to include it here. Should I put it in at the 'Controlled-release types' section or should I take it to the urea page? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Anubisthefoxhead (talkcontribs) 11:52, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Ambiguity of units in chart[edit]

Edited a chart to more clearly display the units used in each section

Section "Organic and Non-organic"[edit]

The quote

It is believed by some that 'organic' agricultural methods are more environmentally friendly and better maintain soil organic matter (SOM) levels. There are some scientific studies that support this position.[3]

doesn't seem to be supported by the link given, in fact, quite the opposite:

"Both organic and inorganic (mineral) fertilizer sources contribute to the buildup of organic matter in soils. There is widespread public misperception that organic agriculture is more environmentally friendly and better maintains soil organic matter levels. However, there are no generally accepted scientific experiments to support the superiority of either organic or inorganic plant nutrient sources. In fact, long-term experiments from around the world indicate that sustained yields and soil productivity can be accomplished with balanced nutrient applications using animal manures and/or com- mercially produced mineral fertilizers." (talk) 15:03, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Lead Section and article issues[edit]

I have made a few changes to this article but minor tinkering is not going to improve it significantly. The opening definition given for fertilizer is wrong, and the original author then proceeds on adventures of pure fantasy. Richard B. Frost (talk) 06:02, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

The third paragraph of the lead section should likely be removed. It does not meet the req. of a lead paragraph. At least, It should be moved to the section on Organic and Inorganic. Also, the overuse of the term "natural" implying something different and better than "chemical" is evidence of a biased POV. This needs to be fixed. I am considering placing a POV tag on the page. Codwiki (talk) 21:22, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Claims for Haber-Bosch process require documentation and clear phrasing[edit]

I've just removed this line from the close of the 4th-5th paragraph of the "Inorganic fertilizers" section:

The Haber-Bosch process uses about one percent of the Earth's total energy supply (primarily in the form of natural gas) in order to provide half of the nitrogen needed in agriculture.Adding too much fertiliser damages the plant.

The statement is unusually unclear. Does the H-B process use 1% of the total energy supply of the earth annually? Monthly? Daily? By the second? By the century?

This would be technically okay if "energy" were changed to "power" (since power is defined as energy per unit time, dE/dt). I think that is what the original author meant, but the wording is poor. Also, I'm not sure what the point of the statement is, wording aside.
Jrtomshine 18:18, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Equally so, what does it mean to say "half" of the nitrogen needed -- in commercial farming, in farming in developed countries, in small-scale farming and family gardening? How does this supposed measurement weigh, in comparison to the total amount of nitrogen in prior reserves in soil, in decaying vegatation, in legume deposits, in azobacterial contributions, in algae, in the nitrogenous fallout from lightning?

Where's the science?

The removed statement is not encyclopedic. References, and defined terms, for this kind of pseudo-calculation need to be provided, if flat assertions are going to be made about what processes provide -- and what percentages those processes actually deliver in realworld terms.

Cheers, Madmagic 05:17, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Madmagic and whoever wrote the deleted part or anyone having related information,

I agree that the above isn't accurate enough for an encyclopedia (without the sources), but I had hoped to find some information on the environmental impact of fertilizer production in Wikipedia. So if someone has information that can be backed up on this, it would be great if he/she could add it. As for "earth's total energy supply" I wouldn't be surprise if it should have been "humanity's total energy consumption".


I've added some aspects of energy into the nitrogen fertilizer section. The previous use of the term Earth's energy supply or humanity's total energy consumption is unorthodox in energy statistics - the correct expression is simply global energy supply. This simply means the sum of coal, oil, nuclear, hydro, gas and other renewables. There would not be any need to discuss power in this context - if you were to give actual figures, the energy would need to relate to a given time interval (month, year etc) This section could be enlarged as fertilizer production is substantially affected by energy prices, which feeds into the issues of climate change and sustainability, among other environmental issues GrahamP 03:51, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

removed text[edit]

.. of organic matter, i.e. carbon based), or inorganic (containing simple, inorganic chemicals). They can be naturally-occurring compounds such as peat ...

The above was removed by User: Not sure this was an improvement. --

Paleorthid 16:44, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Confusing elements[edit]

First you state the lack of evidence on the "fertilizer pollution" idea. You put it as misconception. Later, you talk about the soil and some "destuctive nature" on fertilizers. You should clarify this a little more specific.

The author of some articles inserted his pubs as references, this should be checked. 5 refs four two sentenses and 4 for the rest of the article is a little to much. Most of the stuff is converence material, wich could be original research.--Stone 08:46, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

History section[edit]

I don't actually know anything about this subject, and so can't contribute, but I came to the article looking for a history of fertilizer. Currently, there isn't even a stub of a history section. --jacobolus (t) 21:21, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

  • I've started one - however, my sources are English and it would benefit if someone could add an international perspective Ephebi 11:26, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for acknowledging that the industrial history is limited to England. If I find any US references, I will add them. It would also be useful to acknowledge the different fertilization practices in Asia (including human manure). Wflorid (talk)

  • Thanks, though if you read the history section you will realise that the sources I used were not "limited to England". However it does have a bias towards the industrialisation associated with the "agricultural revolution" and so it reflects fertiliser's largely European heritage and invention. Re: "different practices", unless you have identified a clear historical basis for them, I suggest they should be recorded as such, else described as a "traditional" method. Scatological subjects would be best dealt with under a more appropriate article - manure which is linked in the introduction Ephebi (talk) 22:00, 1 December 2008 (UTC)


This article needs major improvement. There has generally been confusion between plant fertilization needs and plant nutrition needs. These are not the same. Since many soils are plentiful in certain nutrients, many agronomists think forget they are needed even though they may not be added for fertilizer. Recently, chloride has been recognized as not only essential but perhaps as a macro-nutrient for plants. Indeed, human vegetarians obtain all of their chloride from plant KCl. Chloride is a major counter-ion for potassium. [1] Codwiki (talk) 20:37, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Chlorine, as chloride ion, is not a micro-nutrient for either plants or animals. Chloride anion is a major anion in animal and plant fluids. The major cation (positive ion) is different for animals and plants. In plants, it's potassium (K+) , in animals, it's sodium (Na+). Plants do not accumulate sodium nor do they like Na in the soil. Most soils are K depleted and therefore plant growth rates can be increased by fertilization with K. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Codwiki (talkcontribs) 20:13, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

Those who may not know, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen are also macronutrients as well as sulfur.

I think most people realize that plants need water [H2O]. As for carbon, well, it's not usually a "ferterlizer" per se, since it generally isn't applied by humans. I suppose someone could add a section about growing plants in CO2-enriched atmospheres in greenhouses, which has been done.

Jrtomshine 18:15, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

External link to: Articles on Various Kinds of Fertilizer ([edit]

According to my Firefox browser extension "Calling ID Link Advisor" the external link "Articles on Various Kinds of Fertilizer (" shows red, advising that the site owner hides his identity. Could anyone advise as to the suitability of such a link in Wikipedia. 17:33, 24 November 2006 (UTC)

Correction needed?[edit]

The sentence "Some materials, such as ammonium nitrate, are used minimally in large scale production farming." is not correct. I live and farm in West Tennessee and.201.36]] (talk) 21:22, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

"Liebig's theory"?[edit]

Does this refer to Liebig's Law? If anyone knows for sure, could you please make the link? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ken g6 (talkcontribs) 22:50, 3 February 2007 (UTC).


In my opinion the link to the Fertilizer Institute should not be removed, as it is not advertisement of the fertilizer industry.

This article currently sucks! Text Is Not Clear![edit]

This article currently sucks. The phrase "There are concerns though about arsenic and cadmium accumulating in fields treated with phosphate fertilizers. Eventually these can build up to unacceptable levels and get into the produce. (See cadmium poisoning.)" under the "Health and sustainability issues" section (and yes, only the first word is capitalized in the titlein the article!) does not make any sense! What do arsenic and cadmium have to do with phosphate fertilizers?? 09:38, 20 April 2007 (UTC)BeeCier

Cadmium Uranium and arsenic are trace compounds in phosphates and because thea are not filtered out thea are transfered onto the fields.--Stone 10:12, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree, the Risks section was a mess. I've rearranged it, added a few details, and tried to put types of fertilizer in a logical order. - Ken g6 21:15, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
I really agree aswell because it barely explains all the chemicals and what its just basically made of i mean siriously-- (talk) 17:00, 1 February 2008 (UTC)CHRIS
This section provides 'scientific evidence' to promote the issue of Synthetic Fertilizers 'poisoning the soil' via the references to Phosphate by-products of Cadmium, Arsenic, etc. Needs to be cleaned up to state that there are often processes for Synthetic Fertilizers that are not always, at all times by all manufacturers, implemented and can lead to these issues of soil poisoning. User:MarkCiliberto —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:59, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Little mention of major environmental effects of inorganic fertilizers[edit]

I read this article from an ecological perspective to ascertain the overall effects that fertilizer production has on the environment and to understand how it is made. While this article was useful in this sense, I couldn't help noticing the lack of information regarding the detrimental effects that fertilizers have on watercourses, and how they reduce diversity within the area they are applied to. The main problem with fertilizers is that they run off into rivers causing eutrophication - I suggest that a link be made to the page of this name. They also increase the overall growth of competitive plant species, which mean that ruderal (weedy) and stress tolerant species are out - competed and so the diversity of an area decreases. Therefore accidental spraying of fertilizers onto hedgerows reduces hedgerow diversity. - Jugglia1 14:09, 9 July 2007 (UTC)jugglia1 yer agreddd rubbish —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:41, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

This line I think is also somewhat contentious[edit]

'When used appropriately, inorganic fertilizers enhance plant growth, the accumulation of organic matter and the biological activity of the soil, while reducing the risk of water run-off, overgrazing and soil erosion' - although fertilizers will enhance plant growth I think it would be a difficult case to argue that they do any of the rest. I am unclear about what is meant by 'biological activity of the soil' - I would imagine that addition of fertilizers would decrease invertebrate diversity, but possibly increase the decomposition rate - I don't know. Is this what is meant? The accumulation of organic matter follows plant growth, but without additional nitrates more plant matter would be left after cropping (as less would be valuable harvest), overgrazing still occurs in highly fertlised areas as stocking is increased to match plant growth and soil erosion.... how do fertilizers prevent soil erosion? I am not a professor, I am a student of wildlife conservation so this is perhaps more of a question than a statement of facts... but it just doesn't seem to fit well with what I have been taught. 00000000

Health and sustainability issues[edit]

There have been claims of the massive social & population impact of ammonia-based fertilizers, notably by Vaclav Smil, e.g.: Nature 29 July 1999: Detonator of the population explosion "Without ammonia, there would be no inorganic fertilizers, and nearly half the world would go hungry" & in his book Enriching the Earth. Smil links fertilizer to the growth of the world's population from 1.6 bn in 1900 to 6+ bn today[2], effectively breaking out of the limits set by theories such as the Malthusian catastrophe. I'm tempted to suggest we should we raise this in this article, as the size of the earth's population is probably the biggest issues of today - ref: sustainability#Population_growth_and_Consumption? Ephebi 15:41, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

  • In the absence of any feedback to the contrary I've been bold and added a small section on global issues regarding sustainability & greenhouse gasses. Ephebi 09:13, 9 August 2007 (UTC)

biofuel by-products[edit]

Saw this in another article - is this encylcopedic and suitable for inclusion here? According to a 2003 article in Discover magazine, it is possible to use the process of thermal depolymerization to manufacture fertilizer out of garbage, sewage, and agricultural waste [3]. A follow up article from 2006 gave more information [4], suggesting it produces "9 percent nitrogen, 1 percent phosphorus, 2 percent potash, and 19 amino acids" Ephebi 09:32, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

  • I have tried to incorprate this under Health and sustainability issues Ephebi 10:43, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

merge with fertilization (soil)[edit]

It seems to me like the little that is in the article should be merged into this one, replacing the content with a redirection. Bendž|Ť 20:28, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Agree -- Paleorthid (talk) 21:08, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

"man-made manure" leads my fantasy astray[edit]

The phrase "man-made manure" is no good - but I'm not sure what was intended. Whoever merges Fertilizer and Soil Fertilization, please make sure the wording is altered! Reason: Another frequently used online source, Cambridge dictionary online, defines "manure" as excrements, which would synonymize "man-made manure" with "human faeces". Incorrect, and bad for school use: I would not like to be the teacher forced to discuss this mistake in a class trying to humiliate me. 15:32, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

  • LOL, good point - I presume we mean "organic" in this context. Chambers doesn't have the scatological meaning, though Websters notes it as animal... I'll tidy it up if you don't want to WP:be bold. Ephebi 23:11, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
It's not so far-fetched as you might think. There are fertilizers on the market which are actually processed slude from municipal sewage treatment plants. (The sludge is sterilized first, of course!) The advantage is that the sludge doesn't have to go to a landfill. The disadvantage is that any toxic waste that was in present in the sewage system (say from drain cleaners or what not) ends up in the fertilizer. See for more info. At any rate, this type of fertilizer makes up a really insignificant portion of the fertilizer market, so it may or may not be worth mentioning in the article. And I too suspect it's not what the user meant. Riick (talk) 04:49, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

self contradiction?[edit]

The health and sustainability section contradicts itself.

First it states that there is a public perception that the use of fertilizer "poison's the soil" and that there is no scientific evidence of this.

Then it goes on to state that buildup of cadmium, arsenic, and uranium, all of which are highly toxic, can happen as a result of the use of fertilizer and then links to the cadmium poisoning article.

The two statements are incompatible, and the first should I think take a less condescending tone and be rewritten to unify itself with the second statement. Such as "While there is no scientific evidence to support claims that fertilizer itself may cause soil toxicity, improperly manufactured fertilizer can present problems due to buildup of such toxins as..." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:41, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

health and sustainability section[edit]

a sustainability section is incomplete without any discussion of the depletion of natural fertilizers and the production of replacements through various methods (e.g. the Haber process) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:44, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

There are several sections in this article, which tend to repeat or address the same environmental issues, at least partly, and thus must confuse the reader. These are
  • health and sustainability under "Inorganic fertilizers (mineral fertilizer)"
  • Environmental risks of fertilizer use
  • global issues, under "Environmental toxicity of fertilizer"
This needs to be cleaned up. However there are also other parts, which need clean-up, e.g. production of fertiliser - should not be described here but referred to the specific items, Ammonia, Haber process - fertilsier use and its related benefits and hazards, possibly referring to the the different nutrients for details rather than giving invomplete and sporadic information here. I feel that in order to achieve this the structure of the article should be streamlined. This would need agronomists to work at. The sustainability part, though important, would then come at the end. Mregelsberger (talk) 16:00, 24 August 2009 (UTC)


there be a section on the use of fertilizer in bomb making? Luke12345abcd (talk) 00:34, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

India - a major user of nitrogen-based fertilizer?[edit]

In the table of fertilizer users India isn't mentioned. An Indian I know tells me that there is almost no use of nitrogenous fertilizers. But this document from FAO tells of an consume of 17 million tonnes of total nutrients in 2005. The link for this table is also broken and is it really a FAO-reference? Hogne (talk) 11:22, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Removed section from lack of sources[edit]

"Biomineral soil management, a total mineral and biological concept evolved by the South Australian Geomite company, utilizes the interaction of an 'insoluble' minerals base with specific micro-organisms to provide nutrition, structure and enhanced biology in soils. It proposes that plants feed by releasing root exudates of precise chemical composition to activate those soil fungi and bacteria which will solubilize elements required by the plant at that time. The exudate composition varies throughout the life of the plant, and any stresses imposed upon it result in further compensatory changes - in essence, the plant practises self medication. The term 'nature's smorgasbord' was coined to explain this process. It provides a possible explanation for the prevalence of pest and disease attack in crops fertilized by chemical means - applied soluble fertilizer masks the 'smorgasbord' process, eliminating correct nutrition."

There is no reference and a Google search for Geomite company turns up a one page site with a logo and contact information for a sales person no biomineral info. The other listings were the Wikipedia pages none of which were referenced. Disagreeableneutrino (talk) 10:07, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Agree and removed promotional paragraph again. Vsmith (talk) 11:12, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Correct spelling[edit]

I have added the correct spelling of fertiliser at the top of the article. I think the article should be moved to its English spelling fully. Say the word out loud, there is no "zed" sound in it!

Many of the sources also use the English spelling. This should be considered, as the US are the only country to spell it with a zed. And this is English Wikipedia, not American English Wikipedia. Btline (talk) 12:44, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure how you can deny that there's a Z sound in it; the S makes a Z sound in a number of words. Please note that this is an American website, with an American spelling in the title, and established policy essentially says on this issue, "shut up." Less tersely, the article is and has been written this way, and it's fine this way; starting a fight over it it will just annoy everyone. Twin Bird (talk) 04:43, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Fertilizer is just fine the way it is: -zer and -ser are both equally good spellings in Brit English, in fact Chambers' puts the -zer first [5]. -zer is the preferred spelling in Am. English. As -zer is good in both dialects then -zer it should stay. However, the WP:MOS indicates that we keep true to the first dialect used unless there is a consensus to change. The original article was ambiguous, but the first revision used Brit English [6], and so the rest of the text should remain in Brit. English, -zer and all. Ephebi (talk) 14:50, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

That is not true, zer is not an accepted spelling if you have your spell checker set to British English. In both College and University all my tutors emphasiSed the fact that they would not accept work with "z"'s in where there should be an "s" and similarly "Analog" and "Color" were not accepted spellings in course work. I'm with btline on this issue (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:57, 4 April 2010 (UTC).

Length of intro[edit]

The intro is a bit long, I think many will agree, so I will start to slowly incorporate some more detailed info into the relevant secrions. Apothecia (talk) 07:01, 6 April 2009 (UTC)


I have found the history section to be long and tedious; I agree that history of fertilizer should be documented here, but there seem to be endless figures, and generally too much information preceding the article's discussing actual fertilizer.

Maybe we should have a separate article for fertilizer history--fertilizer(history)?--with an abbreviated history at the beginning?

Or, move the history down the article a bit?Apothecia (talk) 01:17, 9 April 2009 (UTC)

  • Disagree. For a topic which had such a major impact on the history of the modern world, it was fairly concise until you edited it into lots of small piecemeal subsections about individuals, most of which already have their own articles. This massively enlarged the space as well. I suggest returning it to the previous, more prosaic, format, which read much better. Ephebi (talk) 10:11, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

I think that separating it out increased the length of the section only by about 10-20% in scrolling length, and made it more readable since it is really just about all over the place. This guy did this, that guy did that, but what does the section matter without a historical context, or an explanation perhaps, of how the discoveries took place, rather than simply stating that it happened and going into too many specifics and describing the process, which I find a bit dry. (eg In 1927 Erling Johnson developed an industrial method for producing nitrophosphate, also known as the Odda process after his Odda Smelteverk of Norway[citation needed]. The process involved acidifying phosphate rock (from Nauru and Banaba Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean) with nitric acid to produce phosphoric acid and calcium nitrate which, once neutralized, could be used as a nitrogen fertilizer)Apothecia (talk) 02:41, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

This article is terrible[edit]

I've never commented on an article before, but after reading this one I have to. I am not an area expert on fertilizers, so I'm ill equipped to make changes myself. I visited this page to get information but the page is unreadable. Whoever thinks they're doing anyone a favor by flagging citation needed every sentence should either find the citations themselves or let it go. As a user I can't even disseminate the information presented because the flow of the text is so broken up. Not everything needs a citation and some generalizations are okay. The point of wikipedia is to make information accessible to the nonexpert. Although the information should be correct, a simple consensus from the common people is enough. If something is wrong, it will get fixed. Making an article this unreadable renders it useless. Someone, please fix this. Ropeswing 11:41 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Sewage sludge[edit]

In the article it states that sewage sludge is not used due to risk of contamination. However, is this meant when sewage sludge is used -as is-, without refinement ? If it is heated into pellets (such a plant exist in the us), i guess most contaminants are removed (so that it is probably already safe to use as fertiliser for crops)

Need discussion of energy and greenhouse gases[edit]

Fertilizers require large energy inputs in their manufacture both as feed stock and energy sources. We need a section on this.

One of the big issues around fertilizer use is the production of greenhouse gases, CO2, NO2 and NOx and CH4.Much of agricultures negative impact on the environment is associated with this production. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:07, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

Fish fertilizer[edit]

Is there any danger of mercury from fish fertilizer? Thanks.Rich (talk) 23:45, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

fertilizers are cool

yup apparently. i'll add some inApothecia (talk) 02:05, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

No explanation of fertilizers' effects on plants[edit]

I've been reading this article to find various general information on fertilizers but I could find nothing about why fertilizers are used. I think some explanation should be added to why the fertilizers are used and what farmers are trying to achieve through the usage of fertilizers, therefore, the effect an optimal mix of fertilizers will affect a plant's growth and why. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:52, 29 December 2009 (UTC) I agree the article needs improvement in this area. I understand that high nitrogen fertilizers promote "green leafy" growth as seen in a fast-growing green lawn after high nitrogen lawn fertilizer is applied. I do not know the effect of the other two ingredients, phosphorous and potassium. I understand that one promotes fruit and flower formation and the other promotes root formation. If this is correct, which is which???LFlagg (talk) 01:09, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

Source needed for the statistic "3-5% of world natural gas production is used in fertilizer production"[edit]

Would someone find that statistic again? It seems to be missing from all the citations in both the Fertilizer and Haber process articles. And find it in something that's not hidden behind a paywall. No one's going to look in Science to find a simple stat that should be available freely on a government or industry website. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:37, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

Consumer education (retail; labeling)[edit]

I've come to this article (a very good one) looking for information about which (inorganic) fertilizers might contain Cadmium (or other harmful elements). The question I have is (though it seems the FDA hasn't seen fit to require inclusion of such complete info on fertilizer labels) if I am buying an inorganic fertilizer at the retail level, e.g. at Home Depot, how can I determine if the compounds in the bag (e.g. source of phosphorus) will likely/definitely include harmful elements such as cadmium. If a bag of fertilizer says "for roses and flowers" should I assume that it is perhaps unsafe (rather than merely unsuitable) for my vegetable garden? "Lawn Fertilizer" would not be an obvious choice for my vegetables, but for all I know, (though relatively high in N) it could be a reasonable source of nutrients for my home food production. There are products of course, specifically labeled "Tomato and Vegetable" fertilizer, but with a different consumer price factor, and no ensuing information as to why said NPK is deemed more suitable for vegetables, or indeed very unsuitable to (or by) some minds. I realize that use of one type of fertilizer will necessarily involve risk of contamination of other areas and ground water itself. That much is easily understandable. Many people who (e.g.) haven't read this article may be simply biased against use of any synthetic fertilizer based on lack of knowlege or concern for safety, etc.

I am all for the movement towards sustainable, safe yet effective fertilizer sources. My concern is mostly the fleecing of the consumer based on often dubious "organic" claims on food labels; the current common wisdom (for many) is that it is simply a black vs. white matter. An example of the wide variety, yet the gist of my concerns: why would a friend of mine insist on spending considerably more for "organic" coconut, when to the best of my (albeit limited) knowlege, coconut trees have few (if any) devasting insect or fungal/bacterial pests to contend with, and their fertilizer needs would also seem to be minimal (given the (sometime/some places) non essential nature of coconut consumption by humans). That is, my friend may be quite blindly following the bandwagon of "organics" as the only way to be safe, while not even that is quite 100% true, e.g. given the reference to mercury contamination in fish meal in a Spanish study). I am aware of the dirty dozen/list of 10 vegetables that are typically sprayed the most for insect infestation. Regarding fertilizers, it would be a start to have similar lists. That would/should include of course, collateral environmental liabilities such as one sees in the commercial production of strawberries (where does the thousands of acres of black plastic go? landfills, after only one use?)

Thanks to anyone who shares my concerns! Would love to see more progress in this area. Oxxyone (talk) 07:04, 9 April 2012 (UTC)

How are chemical fertilizers made?[edit]

This article lacks information on how chemical fertilzers are made. It would be nice if someone knowledgable on the subject would elaborate this subject. I have heard that chemcical ferilizers are derived from crude oil. If that is the case I can not see that using it would violate organic principles since crude oil is the waste of feces of ancient animals. 2602:306:C518:62C0:290F:5E4E:7E60:2AD6 (talk) 19:43, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Questions like this should be asked at our science reference desk. I've copied it to Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Science#Production_of_chemical_fertilisers for you where someone will be more likely to answer. SmartSE (talk) 23:50, 21 July 2012 (UTC)


Why is there no article on this chemical fertilzer Methyleneureas? 2602:306:C518:62C0:290F:5E4E:7E60:2AD6 (talk) 20:01, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Iron Sucrate[edit]

Someone needs to start a article on the subject of iron sucrate. 2602:306:C518:62C0:290F:5E4E:7E60:2AD6 (talk) 21:09, 21 July 2012 (UTC)


Ausphexx (talk) 07:25, 29 December 2012 (UTC)This section makes little sense.

No citations in the "Lack of long-term sustainability" section[edit]

I apologize if I'm not doing this right, but I noticed there were no citations/references for the section "Lack of long-term sustainability." I wanted to check the source of the information but could not. Could someone please cite the source material? Groupsome (talk) 10:30, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

Bullship! Hippie non-science. This article has some good points but should be investigated for neutrality and references[edit]

Article has biased POV and quite inaccurate. "Organic Fertilizer" is a misnomer as most plants do not distinguish between required minerals derivation; article implies plants have an exogenous digestive system (See Hydroponics). (The mycelia of some fungi form rare symbiotic relationships with plants like Douglas Fir; an uncommon occurrence.) Ammonia is toxic to plants (in general), Ammonia gas has been introduced directly into soil to sterilyze it (from nematodes, fungi, insects, and other plant pests (typically prior to field lying fallow for a season). Ammonia/Ammonium requiring soil microbes to convert it into usable Nitrite ion, Nitrate in fertilizers is converted into Nitrite to be utilized (pass plant membranes). At high soil Ammonia levels, Ammonia is oxidized to inert Nitrogen gas. Although Ammonium Nitrate can be thermally decomposed to Nitrous Oxide in a test tube, evidence points simply to Nitrogen content of soil as the cause ("Organic Fertilizer" is usually limited in total available Nitrogen.) Large doses of Nitrite (~30gm NaNO2 dose) are used to induce methemoglobinemia as antidote to Cyanide poisoning. Ignorant of the critical body requirement (e.g. heart function) of, Nitric Oxide was only discovered in the 1990's and many lay "scientific experts" ("Dr." Drew on television shows) insist on vilifying Nitrite in favor of eating a vegetarian diet. Yet many vegetables are naturally high in Nitrite. "spinach (740 mg/100 g FW), collard greens (320 mg/100 g FW), mustard greens (120 mg/100 g), broccoli (40 mg/100 g FW), and tomato (39 mg/100 g FW)." Nitrite is also one of body sources for Nitric Oxide. Phrase "fluorine absorbed from the sea has prevented what were originally massive deposits of bird guano - from being leached from the coral based limestone rocks on which they were originally deposited." is nonsensical and ignorant in that Guano is a nitrogenous fertilizer (Birds poop Uric Acid) and not a significant Phosphate source. Have yet to find a reference that limestone (Calcium Carbonate, not Phosphate) rock originated from Coral. Wiki page [[7]] lists Ocean Phosphate higher than Nitrogen and Iron among other life critical elements in Sea Water. See references Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease By AnnMarie Kocher, Joseph Loscalzo;; Note re "Blue Baby", see Fetal hemoglobin and Methemoglobinemia. A normal human body condition; Methemoglobin exists in normal humans and enzyme mechanisms self correct, newborns have fetal hemoglobin; artifact of feeding newborns formula. Shjacks45 (talk) 14:26, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, the article has a weird POV and focuses much more on "woes" than on what" (fertilizers are) and "how" they work. --Smokefoot (talk) 01:44, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree; this article needs a more balanced view - more focus on "what" and "how" should help. -- Alandmanson (talk) 06:13, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

Definition of organic fertilizer[edit]

One of the biggest problems with this article is that the term "organic fertilizer" has multiple meanings. It could mean:

  • Derived from animal or plant matter
  • Mixtures of fertilizers derived from inorganic and plant/animal matter
  • Accepted as a suitable fertilizer for organic farming (includes chemically inorganic fertilizers like crushed phosphate rock, kieserite, etc) - this will also depend on the regulations of the certifying authority
  • Composed of organic chemicals
  • Composed mostly of organic chemicals

We probably need to stick to "derived from animal or plant matter" and explain that this meaning differs from that used by many organic farmers; also that regulations in some countries may preclude the use of the description "organic fertilizer" for many materials "derived from animal or plant matter". I'm not sure where these issues should be discussed in WP - probably organic fertilizer.

Because of the different meanings, it is probably not a suitable term to use when classifying or describing different fertilizers, and when the word "organic" is used on this page, it needs to be clear what is meant. -- Alandmanson (talk) 06:51, 26 July 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. The users of organic fertilizers have something in mind other than the usual inorganic vs organic definition in chemistry. The source I found, Ullmann's Encyclopedia, used the derived-from-natural plant/animal sources approach. But it includes peat, which surprised me. The encyclopedia did not discuss the relative scale of organic vs conventional fertilizers but implies that organic is fairly small scale. As you imply, it may be useful to introduce a section on "Regulations", which probably would be country by country type thing. --Smokefoot (talk) 09:06, 26 July 2014 (UTC)
Regarding peat; Peat is generally applied as a soil conditioner (to improve soil physical conditions) rather than a fertilizer (defn: "to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants") in potting mixes and in gardens. It is therefore generally excluded from discussions of organic fertilizers. For examples google ""peat is mined for" soil conditioner". -- Alandmanson (talk) 06:45, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

Advice welcome on article outline[edit]

If you have views on what readers probably want and on the associated technology, please leave a message here. One issue is that probably many readers want practical guidance on their gardens our house-hold plants, but that info would not be emphasized. --Smokefoot (talk) 20:31, 26 July 2014 (UTC) A suggested outline (to be edited):

  • Definition(s) of fertilizers and scope of article
  • Classification or kinds of fertilizers
    • Liquid vs solid, regular vs slow/controlled release (minor in usage)
    • Straight (one nutrient)
      • Nitrogen chemicals (ammonia, nitrates, ureas)
      • Phosphorus chemicals (phosphates in various forms
      • Potassium (not much variety)
    • Complex
      • two component (N + P, say) with examples, such as ammonium phosphates
      • two component and numbering schemes for describing them
    • Micronutrient (metals mainly it seems, but also sulfur, silicon)
    • Organic, mainly a redirect, although I sense that editors like this topic, it is probably small scale in the grand scheme of things
Organic fertilizer is small-scale in terms of commercial sales, exports & imports, but local use in less-developed countries is huge, and over-use where there are concentrations of animals (esp. developed countries) is a big problem. Also, in terms of numbers of farmers, the impact is much greater than would be indicated by commercial sales; many (most?) small-scale farmers rely on organic fert inputs for at least part of their plant nutrient inputs. That being said, I am fine with most of the discussion (including debate of the definition) being on the organic fertilizer page. -- Alandmanson (talk) 07:01, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Production: not too techie
    • ammonia/nitrates via Haber-Bosch
    • phosphates from phosphate rock
    • mixing phosphates and ammonia ingredients to get complex fertilizers
  • how fertilizers function
    • plant nutrition, perhaps something on seedlings vs maturer ones
    • soil modification (formally part of fertilizers), not nutritional but soil conditioning
soil modification is covered by soil conditioner, and the wikipedia definition of fertilizer excludes soil conditioners Alandmanson (talk) 07:35, 27 July 2014 (UTC)
  • how fertilizers are applied (liquid vs solid, delayed release, foliar vs traditional)
  • Social impact: productivity vs acre
  • Environmental impact: lots of grim news, probably, about anoxic zones, eutrophication, energy consumed in making fert's
    • Water quality (merge nitrate vs eutroph?)
    • Soil quality
    • Atmosphere
    • Sustainability
    • Other
  • History (already an existing, Eurocentric article
May be split the complex between binary (NP,NK,PK) et ternary NPK ?  DoneMany thanks for your job. Trackteur (talk) 11:06, 27 July 2014 (UTC)

The article needs improvement in explaining the basic effect of fertilizers on plants. Some basic information is missing. I understand that high nitrogen fertilizers promote "green leafy" growth as seen in a fast-growing green lawn after high nitrogen lawn fertilizer is applied. I do not know the effect of the other two ingredients, phosphorous and potassium. I understand that one promotes fruit and flower formation and the other promotes root formation. If this is correct, which is which???LFlagg (talk) 01:18, 8 March 2015 (UTC)

18% recovery rate[edit]

@Smokefoot: Can you provide more details on the sourcing for the 18% recovery rate that you just added to Fertilizer#Nitrate_pollution? I can't access the source unfortunately, but this seems extremely low to me. This source states "Globally, about 40% of N inputs to crops are recovered in harvested products" but harvested products tend to make up only ~ 50 % of the total plant matter (we don't have an article on harvest index yet). Thanks SmartSE (talk) 15:04, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Sure and thanks for checking up on me! Here is an exact quote from the introductory chapter "...A 1998 assessment of nonpoint sources of N and P to waters in the USA (conducted by the Ecological Society of America) determined that only about 18 % of the nitrogen that is applied to fields as fertilizers leaves the fields in the form of produce and the remaining 82 % is left behind as residue or in soils, where it ... [does bad stuff]" I found this ebook on Eutrophication in my institution's library and have been relying on it for info. Data on utilization efficiencies of N and P seem absolutely essential to fertilizer and eutrophication and related articles. So any advice or help would be welcome. BTW, if you are ever worried about something I add, just revert and we can discuss. --Smokefoot (talk) 15:15, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick reply! I followed the citations and found that the ESA report is this which cites this as a source for the 18% figure but from a quick skim of that paper I can't see where it comes from. I don't think that the 18% figure is credible considering that it can be as high as 80%. Also, only some of the N that is not taken up by crops is lost through leaching - NO2 losses and immobilisation are also significant. Finding a good source is tricky though... Peter Vitousek is an expert on this kind of thing and this recent review says that only 1/6th of applied N ends up in human diets and the rest is 'wasted' but it's a massive simplification to say that the remaining 5/6ths is present as nitrate pollution. Can you think of a better way to deal with this? Thanks for the work you're doing on this btw. If you need access to paywalled sources I'm more than happy to provide copies to you via dropbox/email. SmartSE (talk) 15:50, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Maybe I will revert those data until we can converge a little on this kind of info. More later. --Smokefoot (talk) 19:52, 2 August 2014 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Fertilizer/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

*Needs to be harmonized plant nutrition. -- Paleorthid 01:05, 2 December 2007 (UTC) Indicators of importance: {{WPCD}}, 2.3M hits for Google search

Substituted at 21:21, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

Calcium; Rashomon[edit]

Can I rant about the HORRIBLE following section? Obviously not really asking permission.

Other elements: calcium, magnesium, and sulfur[edit]

"Calcium is supplied as superphosphate or calcium ammonium nitrate solutions."

REALLY?? one statement about Ca, Mg, S, and that statement wrong -- or at least highly misleading. The main source of calcium as a soil amendment is agricultural lime. Dolomite lime has calcium and magnesium. Things kind of get off on the wrong foot where it is established in the introductory paragraph that (at least in this article) liming is separate from fertilizsing. Superphospate may be a source of calcium but it is WRONG to have this be the ONLY statement about Ca, Mg, S, and that directly following the section on Organic fert. Nothing more about these important three elements? Absurd omission.

--- Many parts of the fertilizer page are a disaster, the above being the worst. Walk away, just walk away. First of all, in order to offend everyone equally, I'm adopting the spelling fertiliszer (alternately fertilizser). Or, fertilixer, or maybe just fert. User:Smokefoot appears to have introduced a degree of sanity with a decent outline for this topic. Most of the complaints here predate his entry. But this article is (still) well below what I would hope to read in an encyclopaedia. How about admitting that there is no truth here and publish a table with variant versions of THE TRUTH. Then give equal billing to (at least) two POV definitions, each with an acknowledged bias.

The Organic Fert section is a bit dodgy although I can live with it. Doubtless organic chemists continue to have seizures around the term organic fertilixer. OH WELL. I don't even think of peat as a fertilizser as it has no nutrients, (acknowledged), and instead would classify peat as a soil amendment -- and here we probably have another semantic debate of fert vs amendment (vs texturizer). Of course one of the big debates in the organic / non-organic go round is the role of living organisms in the soil and their role in plant nutrition, but I don't think this entry on Fertizixer is the correct debate forum for this, and I'm in favor of keeping it as clinical and brief as possible, with links. The debate over organic vs non-organic fert is every bit as epic as the War of Currents of Edison and Westinghouse. Who would direct it in theater release -- hard to say -- Fertilixer Rashomon. GeeBee60 (talk) 14:00, 7 September 2016 (UTC)

Proposed revision -- Organic Fertilizers[edit]

I am revising the sections on Organic Fertilizers (and next on calcium, etc, see prior entry Calcium Rashamon.) The following draft is complete aside from some references and added links that I need to check. I will move this (with corrections, suggestions, and references) to the main page in about 2 weeks. GeeBee60 (talk) 17:46, 6 November 2016 (UTC)

Organic fertilizers[edit]

Compost bin for small-scale production of organic fertilizer
A large commercial compost operation

“Organic fertilizers” can describe those fertilizers with an organic — biologic — origin -- that is, fertilizers derived from living or formerly living materials. It can also describe commercially available and frequently packaged products that strive to follow the expectations and restrictions adopted by “organic agriculture” and ”environmentally friendly" gardening — related systems of food and plant production that significantly limit or strictly avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The “organic fertilizer” products typically contain both some organic materials as well as some acceptable additives such as nutritive rock powders and microorganisms.

Fertilizers of an organic origin (the first definition) include such materials as animal wastes, plant wastes from agriculture, compost, and treated sewage sludge (biosolids). Beyond manures, animal sources can include products from the slaughter of animals — bloodmeal, bone meal, feather meal, hides, hoofs, and horns all are typical components.[1]

Organically derived materials may or may not be acceptable as products or product components sold for organic farming and gardening. These commercial “organic fertilizer” products typically contain some of the above described organic materials, and may also contain ground sea shells (crab, oyster, etc.), minimally refined rock powders high in specific minerals, other prepared products such as seed meal or kelp, and cultivated microorganisms and derivitives. Marketed “organic fertilizers” frequently avoid organic materials which could contain residual chemicals — such as some composts and treated sewage sludges . But some marketed products may include and promote treated organics because the organic materials are being recycled. No matter the definition nor composition, most of these products contain less concentrated nutrients, but can offer soil-building advantages as well as be appealing to those who are trying to farm / garden more “naturally”.

In terms of volume, peat is the most widely used packaged organic soil amendment. Since this immature form of coal, which improves the soil by aeration and absorbing water, confers no nutritional value to the plants, it is thus not a fertilizer as defined in the beginning of the article. Coir, (derived from coconut husks), bark, and sawdust when added to soil all act similarly (but not identically) to peat and are also considered organic soil amendments - or texturizers - because of their limited nutritive imputs. Some organic additives can have a reverse effect on nutrients — fresh sawdust can consume soil nutrients as it breaks down, and may lower soil pH — but these same organic texturizers (as well as compost, etc.) may increase the availability of nutrients through improved cation exchange, or through increased growth of microorganisms that in turn increase availability of certain plant nutrients.

For fuller discussion, see the article on organic fertilizers.

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Non-requested additives[edit]

Can we mention in the article that synthetic fertilizers are often found to also contain cadmium and radioactive elements of natural phosphate ?

This was mentioned in the book "Cradle to Cradle" by Michael Braungart and William McDonough (Dutch edition). There are also some online references that indicate that this is indeed a problem, see

KVDP (talk) 08:23, 2 January 2017 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Dittmar, Heinrich; Drach, Manfred; Vosskamp, Ralf; Trenkel, Martin E.; Gutser, Reinhold; Steffens, Günter (2009). "Fertilizers, 2. Types". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. ISBN 3527306730. doi:10.1002/14356007.n10_n01.