Agricultural Fertilizers

In: Science

Submitted By Asmaa1222
Words 1126
Pages 5
Prof. Shakhashiri

www.scifun.org

Chemistry 103-1

AGRICULTURAL FERTILIZERS: NITROGEN, POTASSIUM, AND PHOSPHORUS
Anyone who has grown a garden, maintained a lawn, or kept house plants knows that it is necessary to apply a fertilizer to the soil to keep cultivated plants healthy. As they grow, plants extract nutrients they need from the soil. Unless these nutrients are replenished, plants will eventually cease to grow. In nature, nutrients are returned to the soil when plants die and decay. However, this does not occur with cultivated plants. Humans cultivate plants mainly for food, either for themselves or for livestock. When cultivated plants are harvested, the nutrients that the plants extracted from the soil are taken away. To keep the soil productive, it is necessary to replace these nutrients artificially. The kinds and amounts of nutrients that plants need have been determined and can be supplied by applying to the soil substances that contain these nutrients. A plant contains a great number of chemical compounds. The major compound in all plants is water. The percent of the plant's weight that is water varies greatly from one kind of plant to another, from less than 20% to more than 90%. After the water is removed, the bulk of the dry plant material consists of carbohydrate compounds containing the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Using the energy of sunlight in a process called photosynthesis, plants make carbohydrates in their leaves. The carbon and oxygen in carbohydrates come from carbon dioxide, which the plant absorbs from the air, and the hydrogen comes from water absorbed both through the roots and through the leaves. About 90% of the weight of carbohydrates is carbon and oxygen. Therefore, a plant obtains around 90% of its dry weight from the air. Although carbohydrates account for most of the dry weight of a plant, the plant contains smaller…...

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