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Choice of a fertilizer depends on unit cost of nutrient present in it and its agronomic efficiency under a given situation. Fertiliser is a valuable input and measures should be taken to reduce its losses and to increase its uptake and utilisation by the crop. Selecting a situation-specific fertilizer and choosing the time and method of application according to crop demand would minimize losses and increase its efficiency.

Nitrogenous fertilizers
Most crop plants recover only 25-35% of the nitrogen applied as fertilizers. Losses occur by ammonia volatilisation, denitrification, immobilization to organic forms, leaching and run off. Utmost care should be bestowed in selecting the type of fertiliser as well as the timing and method of application.

Choice of the nitrogen fertilizer

1. In submerged rice soil, ammoniacal and ammonia-producing fertilizers like urea are most suitable since ammonia is the most stable form of nitrogen under such conditions.

2. For acidic upland soils, ammoniacal fertilizers are most suitable during rainy season since ammonium is adsorbed on soil particles and hence leaching losses are reduced. Adsorbed ammonium is gradually released for nitrification and thus becomes available to crops for a longer period.

3. In highly acidic upland soils, urea is preferred to ammonium sulphate as the former is less acid forming.

4. In alkaline upland soils of low rainfall regions, nitrate fertilizers are preferred to ammoniacal fertilizers or urea since ammonia may be lost by volatilization under alkaline conditions.

(Source : Kerala Agricultural University)

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