Encyclopedia of Soil Science

2008 Edition
| Editors: Ward Chesworth

Fertilizer Raw Materials

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-3995-9_222

All plant nutrients, except nitrogen, are ultimately derived from geological resources. In many developed and developing countries these resources are industrially transformed into fertilizer that is used mainly for agriculture and horticulture. Soil nutrient depletion by cropping (‘soil mining’) is one of the principal biophysical causes for the downward trend of food production in many parts of the developing world. Farmers use various nutrient inputs, including fertilizers and manures, to reverse this trend and increase soil productivity, food production and food security. In the following the raw materials for the production of fertilizers with the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium as well as the secondary soil nutrient sulfur are reviewed.


Nitrogen is the only major plant nutrient that is not completely supplied by geological raw materials. The main source of nitrogen is the atmosphere, which is made up of 79.1% nitrogen, 20.9% oxygen and 0.036% carbon...

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