The 4Rs Guide to Fertilizer Application
Fertilizers are a vital component of sustainable crop production. Fertilizers assist in increasing the production of crops and while ensuring that the crops are healthy. If nutrients provided to the plants are inadequate, the fertility is mined from the soil, and thus, the crop will not be able to attain its optimal yield. On the other hand, if too much nutrient is provided without managing the risks, there is a high possibility that the excess fertilizer will move away from the plants and in result, affect the environment.
The 4Rs guide is an approach to utilize fertilizer optimally. This practice is good for the grower, farming community, and also the environment. The 4Rs stand for:
- Right Source
- Right Rate
- Right Time
- Right Place
The 4Rs are explained in a more detailed manner as below.
Before applying fertilizer, ensure first that the type of fertilizer applied is of the correct source (i.e. Potassium fertilizer, Nitrogen fertilizer, etc.) you would want to apply the correct type of fertilizer for optimal growth of your plant. Ensure that there is a balanced source of nutrients in the fertilizer, based on the plants.
Assess the soil nutrient content in which your plants are planted in before applying any fertilizer. Some soil has a higher nutrient content than others, while some have a significantly low amount of nutrients. Therefore, the soil nutrient level needs to be checked to avoid over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing.
Assess your crop intake dynamics, soil supply, nutrient loss, and logistics before applying fertilizer. You should know how long it takes for your crops to take up the fertilizer. Recognize also the weather factors before fertilizing. Too much rain will result in fertilizer runoff while no rainfall will retard the absorption of fertilizer by the crop roots.
Before applying fertilizer, you should know the dynamics of the roots. You should know where the roots are located and if it is easy for the roots to intake the fertilizer from where you have applied it. Applying fertilizer too far from the roots will only result in wastage as the fertilizer will run off with rain before it can be absorbed by the roots.