Two Types of Fertilizers
Chemical fertilizers are defined as any inorganic material entirely or partially synthetic which is added to soil to sustain plant growth. They have been manufactured at a factory into solid or liquid forms. Since they have been manufactured, a consumer can know the specific formula of the nutrients they are providing for the plant. These fertilizers can increase the acidity of the soil, interfere with plant growth, and reduce the soil's microorganism population; however, the fertilizer should be applied in moderation. Too much of the fertilizer, can "burn" the plant and lead to death. Chemical fertilizers contribute to pollution when they join runoff when the plant cannot absorb all of the chemical nutrients.
Nano-fertilizers are a new type of fertilizer in agriculture. Instead of a chemical fertilizer, nano-fertilizers use nano-particles in a liquid form. Instead of applying a chemical fertilizer every year, a nano-fertilizer can be applied once and slowly release fertilizer over a period of five to fifteen years. They do not only solve sulfur deficiency in agriculture. They can be used as pesticides to kill insects and for prevention and treatment of mildew and leaf diseases. The application for sulfur nanopowder is wide. The powder can be applied to fruits as an antibiotic, insecticide, and preservation agent. Applied to various plants, the powder can prevent rot and maintain moisture. For livestock, add to feed to increase immunity, promote flavor, and add nutrients; also a prevention agent for a variety of dermatitis, mites, and other skin diseases.
Evaluating Sulfur Deficiency
Two fertilizers, a chemical (KMgS) and a nanoparticle (S NP), were tested on corn in a temperature-controlled greenhouse. The chemical was applied through the soil while the nanoparticle, through the leaves. After eight weeks of growth, the experiment was terminated and the leaves sent to a lab for a mineral analysis report.
Lab analysis results
The lab analysis concluded the chemical and nanoparticle fertilizer solved the sulfur deficiency equally. A consumer can choose either a chemical or nanoparticle fertilizer based on its performance; however, an economic evaluation was completed. The economic evaluation found:
- chemical fertilizer cost $3.26 per hectare
- nanoparticle fertilizer was $41.45 per hectare
Even though the nanoparticle needs to be only applied once in a period of ten years, the chemical fertilizer would still be cheaper after ten years at $32.60. The most economic fertilizer for a consumer to utilize is the chemical fertilizer, although it can have detrimental effects to the environment.