Diammonium Phosphate (DAP)
DAP fertilizers are specifically used to provide plants with phosphorus (P). It became available during the 1960s, and has since been widely used on both commercial crops, as well as in domestic gardens. Phosphorus ( P) is one of three essential macro-nutrients that are needed by plants to grow. The other two are Nitrogen ( N) and Potassium (K).
Out of the three essential macro-nutrients, plants actually consume phosphorus the most. It’s important for plants to carry out their basic life functions, such as photosynthesis, water transpiration and nutrient transfer throughout the plant.
An adequate supply of phosphorus will ensure that a plant grows to its optimum height and size. It also helps the plant produce. Research has also shown that phosphorous can greatly improve the health of crops when applied at the early stages of plant growth, after germination.
DAP is the result of a fusion between ammonia and phosphoric acid, which results in a salt called Diammonium Phosphate (DAP). This salt is compressed into pellets, granules or powders which appear grey or brown in color. They’re sprinkled over the soil close to the plants and will seep into the soil after watering or after the rain.
DAP fertilizers also release nitrogen into the soil, in the form of ammonium. Eventually, the ammonium in the salt breaks down into nitrates, but this process takes quite some time. Therefore, the nitrogen in DAP is considered a ‘delayed’ release nutrient, and will take longer than phosphorus to reach the plants.
The Benefits of DAP Powders
DAP fertilizers are specifically useful in soils that are poor in phosphorus content. Bringing up the P and N concentrations in the soil will result in:
- Larger, greener and healthier looking leaves and fronds.
- Larger fruits and flowers, which will also appear in higher quantities
- A more rapid maturation of plants
- Neutralizes soil that is very acidic by creating an alkaline environment around the pellets
- Highly soluble and easy to seep into the ground
DAP Powder Application and Handling
DAP powders are highly alkaline in nature. Therefore, experts suggest that they are applied at least 5cm away from a plant. This is because dissolving powders will create an alkaline environment around itself which can have a corrosive effect on plant roots and stems, causing problems to the plant.
Additionally, these DAP granules should be applied evenly to ensure there are no large clumps of it on the ground. Large clumps of DAP will increase the alkaline effect sharply, which can have unwanted effects on your crops.
Additionally, these safety tips should be observed when using DAP:
- Avoid using DAP with any Zinc based fertilizer as they can react and form Zinc Phosphide which is a toxic poison.
- The best time to apply DAP powders is before planting. They can be applied one or two weeks before the seedling are transplanted, in order to ensure that they have adequately seeped into the ground.
- DAP is usually applied below the plant or beside it
- DAP has a synergistic effect when used together with Potassium Chloride, and these two can be mixed in equal portions before application.
- DAP granules and powders tend to take up moisture, so they should be stores in a dry area, and covered with a tarp.
For Better and Healthier Crops
In crops like oil palms, DAP powders are often applied to palms that are browning and not producing adequate fruits. They are also used for seedlings, as early application can boost production of the plants in the future.
Also be careful and follow the application instructions well to ensure the health and safety of your crops.