Crop Nutrition: Methods Of Fertilizer Application

Several factors are responsible for the high yield of crops; crop nutrition is prominent in this regard.  There are various methods of fertilizer application; these methods depend on the system of cropping, time of cultivation and type of crop to be grown.

Fertilizer application is very important; aside from the nutrients present in the soil, application of fertilizer is necessary to supplement the existing nutrients, thus, making nutrients available for the growing plants always.

Methods of fertilizer application depend on several factors; one of which is the nature of the fertilizer. Fertilizers can be organic or inorganic. The method of applying an organic fertilizer is quite different from that of inorganic fertilizer; this is as a result of the physical and chemical composition of the fertilizer.

On this note, fertilizer application is classified according to the mode or place of application, type of fertilizer, time of application and rate of fertilizer to be used. Below are the methods of fertilizer application and their various peculiarities:



 

  • Broadcasting

This is the easiest method of fertilizer application.  In this method, the fertilizers are evenly distributed on the surface of the soil. It is a common method used in vegetable farms. Broadcasting as a method of fertilizer application can be carried out in two ways: Basal placement and Top dressing.

Basal placement is the application of the fertilizer to the base or around the root zone of the plant; in other words, the fertilizers are placed at the root zone of the plant.



This method can be used in maize farm and other cereal crops. Top dressing is another method of applying fertilizers to plants; in this method, the fertilizers are evenly broadcasted on the soil surface. It is a common method used in the paddy field and wheat.

When inorganic fertilizers are applied using top dressing method, it is advisable that water should be applied immediately so as wash down any trapped particle of fertilizer on the plant leaves. This is because inorganic fertilizers are hygroscopic in nature; hence, they tend to absorb moisture from the crop leading to scorching of the leaves.

 



  • Placement

Placement is a tactical method of applying fertilizers. It is the application of fertilizer to a fixed portion of the soil where the plant can easily take it up for usage.

This method of fertilizer application can be used when: the fertilizers are in small quantities, hence, it must be meticulously utilized; when the soil has a low level of fertility, hence, it must be used efficiently by the crops; lastly, when development of root system is poor, hence, used to stimulate rooting.



Therefore, you may say that placement is an economical method of fertilizer application. Placement can be done in several ways. They are plough sole placement, deep placement, localized placement, side dressing, and band placement.

In plough sole placement, fertilizers are applied during ploughing. The fertilizers are buried in the furrow (space) made by the plough during operation. This method allows the application of fertilizer prior to planting.

Deep placement is another method of placement commonly used in paddy field. It involves placing the fertilizers near the root zone of the plant. It is used in the application of nitrogenous fertilizers for optimum distribution and usage of the fertilizer in the root zone of the plant. It has several advantages as it prevents loss of nutrient through run off.

Localized placement is another method of fertilizer application that involves the application of fertilizer into the soil close to the seed or plant with the aim of making the nutrient readily available for the plant. This can be done using a seed-cum fertilizer drill planter, where the fertilizer and seed are placed in the same row but at different depth. It is best used in the application of phosphatic fertilizers.

Side dressing is another placement method of applying fertilizers in plants. It involves spreading of fertilizers between rows and around the plants. This is one of the methods used in applying organic fertilizers or manure.

Lastly, row placement; it is a common and simple method of fertilizer application. It involves the application of fertilizers in one or both sides of a row. It is commonly used when crops like sugar cane and potato are planted.



 

  • Foliar application

As the name implies, it is a method of adjusting or meeting the nutritional requirement of a plant through the leaves. It is a method used in the application of starter solution. Starter solution is the solution of NPK fertilizers at a ratio of 1:1:2 or 1:2:1 applied to young plants at the time of transplanting. Foliar application is effective in the application of nutrients like calcium and other minor nutrients like iron, copper, boron, zinc, and manganese.

 

  • Fertigation

This method is a new and effective way of applying fertilizers, especially liquid fertilizers. Fertigation is the application of fertilizers through irrigation water. In other words, the fertilizers are mixed or poured into the irrigation water; as the irrigation operation starts, water, together with the fertilizer, is applied to the plants, hence, serving two purposes: application of fertilizer and irrigating to the plant. This method is economical and less labor intensive.

 

These are different methods of fertilizer application. Fertilizer application is a crucial aspect of crop production. Irrespective of the nutrient content of the land to be cultivated, it is advisable to supplement with fertilizer as the plant grows. This approach increases the fertility of the land during cultivation and conserves the fertility of the soil after cultivation.

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Author: Agbabiaka AbdulQuadri

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