Fertilisers are materials that can be added to soils or directly applied as a spray coating on plants. They contain essential nutrients for plant development such as Phosphorous, Nitrogen and Potassium in the form of chemical compounds which allow them entry into plant cells so they may access these essential elements for growth and health maintenance. Fertilisers are the most important inputs for farmers and gardeners to increase the quantity and balance the ratios of these chemical compounds.
N = Nitrogen promotes healthy leaf growth by stimulating the production of chlorophyll (the main chemical involved in photosynthesis — how plants convert sunlight to food).
P = Phosphorus supports the vigorous development of roots, stems, blossoms, and fruits.
K = Potassium plays a key role in helping plants digest and manufacture their foods.
The soil is a living, breathing organic system that plants draw from it to build themselves. When you think about all the matter making up your favourite plant — the leaves on this tree or those flowers in bloom — you realize everything came from three places: air, water and ground as it relates back into its natural state (soil). Think of fertilisers as nutritional supplements. Replacing and strengthening nutrients are the key factors to maintaining healthy soils. Check out the infographic below to know the basics of fertiliser!
Proportions of N-P-K are stated as numbers on the packaging, therefore, you may check the label for the ratio because some are formulated for specific plants. Percentages are offered in varying proportions to suit different fertiliser needs. Plants often need an application of fertiliser to get the nutrients that are needed. If you are just starting your gardening journey, the ideal first step is to test the soil to observe what kind and amount of fertiliser to apply. We recommend doing a soil test because you may find that the fertility level of your garden is already adequate.
Based on the Malaysia Fertiliser Trade Statistics, stated (1) "Agriculture has played a crucial role in modern Malaysia’s development. Malaysia had been a net importing country of fertilisers, the country imported the most K fertilisers and exported the most N fertilisers over the past years. The import value of fertiliser has been reducing in the period of 2011 to 2016. In 2011, it reached RM 5.38 billion and then declined steadily to RM 3.98 billion by 2016 due to the downward trend in unit price. The import and export average unit price of fertilisers in Malaysia had dropped from 2010 to 2016, following the same CPO price trend.”
There are several ways to give your garden the perfect start. For edible crops, fertiliser is usually applied and mixed into the garden soil before planting. If you have already sown your seeds or planted seedlings, do not use any liquid fertiliser on young roots as it could burn them! For example, vegetable crops require nitrogen after they have begun to fruit. The effects of too much nitrogen can be seen before this time delays maturity and reduce flowering. Light feeders such as mustard greens, and sweet peas need a little amount of fertiliser when starting out.
Bear in mind, avoid fertilising during raining season as nutrients will seep into the ground. Feed only well-established plants because fertilising seeds will cause burn and do brush granular fertiliser off the plant leaves to avoid leaf burn.
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