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Facts And Processes Of Fertilizer Production
Facts And Processes Of Fertilizer Production

Fertilizer is said to be any substance added to soil to improve plants' growth and yield. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) compounds are used in Modern synthetic fertilizers with other added secondary nutrients. The use of synthetic fertilizers has rapidly improved the quantity and quality of the food available this day. Just Like every other living organisms, plants are made up of cells and within these cells occur various metabolic chemical processes that are responsible for reproduction and growth.

As we all know, plants don't feed like animals, they are dependant on nutrients which are readily available in the soil to provide the chemicals necessary for their metabolic reactions. Fertilizers replace these chemical components that are absorbed from the soil by growing plants.

Plants use up nitrogen in the protein , nucleic acids, and hormones synthesis. The deficiency of nitrogen is characterized by reduced growth and yellowing of leaves, also plants need phosphorus, a combination of phospholipids, nucleic acids and several other proteins. It is essential to provide the energy needed to drive metabolic chemical processes . Lack of enough phosphorus, the growth of plant is reduced. Another major substance is Potassium, gotten from the soil which is used in protein synthesis and other key plant processes. Spots of dead tissue, Yellowing and weak stems and roots are all indications that the plants lack enough potassium.

Magnesium, calcium, and sulfur are also essential substances in plant growth. They are also included in fertilizers but only in minor quantities , however, since most of the soils are naturally rich of these components,other substances are needed just in small quantities for plant growth. These micronutrients include chlorine, iron, copper, molybdenum, manganese,boron and zinc which function as cofactors in enzymatic reactions. Though they may be present in minor quantities ,plants can die without them.


The fertilizers highlighted here are compound fertilizers which are composed of primary fertilizers and secondary nutrients. Primary fertilizers are substances gotten from nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Many raw materials are used to manufacture these compounds. If ammonia is being used as the nitrogen source , one process of synthetic manufacturing requires the use of natural gas and air, phosphorus component is produced using coal, sulfur and phosphate rock, potassium source comes from potassium chloride, which is a primary substance of potash.

Secondary nutrients are included to some fertilizers to make them more effective. Limestone gives rise to Calcium , which contains calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium and sulphate . Sulfur is another material that is added to fertilizers, Other added materials include copper, iron from ferrous sulfate and molybdenum from molybdenum oxide. These raw components , in solid form, can be supplied to fertilizer firms in bulk quantities - drum quantities, thousands of tons and bag containers.

The Manufacturing


Fully functional factories have been designed to manufacture compound fertilizers. Though depending on the actual composition of the end product, the whole production process will differ based on manufacturers .

Nitrogen fertilizer component

1. Nitrogen makes up a better portion of the earth's atmosphere, a manufacturing process was invented to trap and produce ammonia from air. Here, natural gas and steam are pumped into a cumbersome vessel, air is introduced into the system, and oxygen is extracted by the burning of natural gas and steam. Nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide are left behind . An electric current is introduced into the system to remove carbon dioxide, and ammonia is produced . Magnetite (Fe O ), a Catalysts can be used to improve the speed and efficiency of ammonia synthesis, impurities are removed from the ammonia, and stored in tanks until further processes.

2. Ammonia alone is sometimes used as fertilizer, it is sometimes converted to other substances for easy handling. Ammonia and air are mixed in a tank to produce Nitric acid. In addition of a catalyst, a reaction process begins which converts the ammonia to nitric oxide, in the presence of water, the nitric oxide is further reacted to produce nitric acid.

3. Both Nitric acid and ammonia are used in producing ammonium nitrate. This is a great fertilizer component because of its high nitrogen concentration . The two substances are mixed in a tank and neutralization reaction takes place which produces ammonium nitrate. This then can now be stored until further processing .

Phosphorous fertilizer component.

4. The process of isolating phosphorus from phosphate rocks, sulfuric acid, is introduced which produces phosphoric acid. Some of this substances are further reacted with nitric acid and sulfuric acid to produce a triple superphosphate.

5. In a separate tank, Part of the phosphoric acid is also reacted with ammonia which results in ammonium phosphate, another great primary fertilizer.

Potassium fertilizer component.

6. Fertilizer manufacturers are being supplied Potassium chloride in bulk . By granulating it, The manufacturer converts it into a more usable form. This makes it simpler to mix with other fertilizer components which takes place in the next step.

Granulation and blending.

7. In the production of fertilizer in the most usable form, each of the different compounds, ammonium nitrate, triple superphosphate, ammonium phosphate and potassium chloride are granulated and blended together. This granulation method involves putting the solid materials into an inclined axis rotating drum, pieces of the solid fertilizer take on small spherical shapes as the drum rotates . They are passed through a screen that separates out adequately sized particles. Inert dust is then applied to the particles which serves as coating also keeping each one separate and inhibiting moisture retention. Lastly, the particles are dried, which completes the granulation process.

8. Different particles are blended in appropriate proportions which produces a composite fertilizer. In a large mixing drum, the blending is done, it rotates a number of turns to produce the best mixture. Afterwards , the fertilizer is pushed onto a conveying belt set up , which transports it to the bagging machine.


9. Fertilizers are being supplied to farmers in bags. Filling these bags, fertilizer is first to be delivered into a large hopper, a bag is held open by a clamping device ,then an appropriate amount of fertilizer is released from the hopper into the bag . The bag is placed on a vibrating surface, which intends better fill up. When the filling is done , it is transported in an upright position to a machine that seals it. The bag is conveyored with the help of palletizer, which stacks various bags, getting them ready for shipment to distributors and probably to farmers.

To ensure effective quality of the fertilizer that is being produced, fertilizer manufacturers should monitor the product at each stage of production.

Byproducts and Hazards

Minute portion of nitrogen which is contained in fertilizers being applied to the soil is actually being absorbed by plants. Majority is washed into surrounding bodies of water or into the groundwater. In this way, significant amounts of nitrates has been added to the water that is consumed by the public. Medical studies have shown that certain diseases of the urinary and kidney systems are connected to excessive nitrates, in drinking water. It is also harmful for babies and could even be potentially carcinogenic.

Recently it has been found that sewage sludge is rich in many of the nutrients that are needed for a great fertilizer. However , it also contains certain substances such as cadmium, lead , and mercury in high concentrations which are harmful to plants. Efforts are in place to extract the unwanted substances , making this material a viable fertilizer.