TOP 10 MISTAKES IN FERTILISER USAGE
Fertiliser is a material that supplies nutrients to plants to ensure good yield. Fertilisers increase crop production and profit. Some fertilizers supply only one nutrient while some supply two or more nutrients.
In Nigeria, the commonest type of Fertilisers are the NPK Fertilisers, Urea fertilizer (supplies only Nitrogen), Muriate of Potash (Supplies Potassium) and Single Super Phosphate Fertiliser (supplies phosphorus and calcium). Other less common fertilizers in Nigeria include Potassium Nitrate, Mono Ammonium Phosphate, Potassium Sulfate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Chelates and Calcium Nitrate etc.
In spite of the merits of fertilizer application, some farmers in Nigeria still apply it the wrong way.
Below are the blunders in the application of fertilizers in Nigeria.
Application of Fertiliser without doing a Soil Test
Applying fertilizer to a plant is like taking Chemotherapy without a cancer confirmatory test. It’s just like asking a blind driver to drive a car. A soil test will show the nutrients deficiency and then you can apply the type of fertilizer that will address the deficiencies specified in the test.
Soil test will also guide a farmer to know the exact quantity of fertilizer to apply.
Using Sub-Standard Fertiliser
Fake granule fertilizers like NPK 15:!5:15 are common in Nigeria. These fertilizers may be fake or have nutrients levels not up to the numbers specified on the bags. The unscrupulous sellers of these sub-standard fertilizers also re-bag them with fertilizer bags of known brands in order to deceive the unsuspecting buyers.
Farmers who use this type of fertilizer will not see the expected increase in yield and in some cases; these sub-standard fertilizers can contaminate the soil and kill the plants. Farmers are advised to avoid buying ridiculously cheap fertilizers. They should also buy from well known and reputable vendors.
Reckless Usage of Nitrogen Fertiliser
Some Farmers use excessive quantity of Nitrogen Fertilisers like Urea with the false hope of getting bountiful harvest. Excessive nitrates in plants make plants highly susceptible to fungal diseases and insects infestation. Produce from these plants also have poor keeping quality. In the case of cucumbers for example, application of excessive nitrogen fertilizer may aggravate Downy Mildew problem, increase cucumbers’ foliage damaging insects and harvested cucumbers’ won’t last long before showing signs of spoilage.
Forsaking Foliar Fertiliser
Foliar fertilization ensures that nutrients get into plant tissues faster than soil application of fertilizers. With foliar fertilization, nutrient deficiencies can be quickly corrected. Foliar application of fertilizers no doubt increases crop yield if done in the right way and at the right time.
Using only NPK Fertiliser
NPK is the acronym for Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. NPK are macro nutrients i.e plants need them in large quantity. Most Farmers have the habit of applying only the macro nutrients filled fertilizers to their plants without using the other nutrients. Plants need over 14 nutrients to grow well; applying only three nutrients to your plants is a recipe for failure. There are other non NPK fertilizers like Chelates, Magnesium Sulphate and Calcium Nitrate etc.
Under/Over Usage of Fertilisers
Over usage of fertiilisers is not only detrimental to crops, its also harmful to the environment. Over usage of some nutrients may block plants’ usage and assimilation of other nutrients. For example, over application of nitrogen fertilizer to your crop may interfere with the plants’ ability to make use of potassium, this generally results in lower yield. Under usage of fertilisers will also negatively impact plants’ yield.
Not amending Soil pH
How acidic or alkaline a soil is, affects the plants ability to make use of nutrients and grow well. The optimum soil pH of most crops is 6.5. Applying fertilizers to very acidic or alkaline soil in most cases result in low crop yield and waste of resources. Lime and some types of acid can be added to soil with pH challenges.
Not using Fertigation Techniques
Fertigation is the application of fertiliser solution to plants using irrigation equipments like drip irrigation system. Fertigation is more efficient than soil application of fertiliser. Farmers in Nigeria with drip irrigation system should embrace fertigation.
Wrong Placement of Fertiliser
Applying granule fertiliser too close to plants can burn and kill the plants. Fertilisers should be placed relatively far away from the base of the plants. Veggie Grow Limited mostly advises Farmers to embrace fertigation.
Not using Humates and Microbial Innoculants with Fertilisers
Humates are humus derived materials; they are mainly Humic Acid and Fluvic Acid. Humates make your plants efficiently use applied fertilizers, they repair and decontaminate the soil, feeds beneficial microbes, reduce the negatives of fertilisers and improve your soil Cation Exchange Capacity.
Microbial inoculants like Mycorrhiza and other beneficial microbe solutions increases the efficiency of fertilizers, they also positively impact plants’ growth and yield.
Veggie Grow Limited stocks humates and microbial innoculants.