Ammonium and potassium fertilizers are two types of fertilizers used in the process of plant growth. They have been used since before WWII as a substitute for nitrogen fertilizers that were not widely available at the time.
Is Ammonium Fertilizer the best one?
Ammonium is ammonia combined with water to make it more easily absorbed by plants and is known as Ammonium Nitrate (29-0-0). Ammonium is considered a type of nitrogen fertilizer. Ammonia (NH3) and Ammonium Nitrate (NH4NO3) are not the same compounds. Ammonia is made of one atom of nitrogen linked to three hydrogen atoms and Ammonium Nitrate is a molecule consisting of one Ammonium linked to two Nitrate atoms. Its gas can be directly applied to crops by spraying the gas onto them in a process known as volatilization.
Ammonium is an un-reactive substance, so it does not leach out of the soil into water supplies. It is not a very stable substance and can be degraded by light, water, and oxygen; Ammonium needs to be stored in airtight containers. Ammonium fertilizers were used extensively before the availability of Nitrogen-based fertilizers. It provides faster growth rates for plants than most other types of fertilizer but Ammonium has a tendency to burn the roots and leaves of plants, Ammonium is not considered an ideal fertilizer for use in agriculture.
Ammonium Nitrate based fertilizers can cause Ammonia gas to be released as a vapor from decomposing Ammonium based fertilizers which can become deadly when inhaled by humans or other living organisms. Ammonium nitrate-based fertilizers are also the main ingredient in Ammonium Nitrate/Fuel Oil (ANFO) fertilizer bombs or dynamite that have been used as terrorist devices and most recently in the Oklahoma City Bombing. Ammonium-based fertilizers are still widely used in industrial applications such as Ammonium Chloride use in Ammonium Chloride based dry ice blasting. Ammonium Nitrate is the main ingredient in Ammonium Nitrate based fertilizer bombs and Ammonium Chloride is used as an icy road treatment to reduce friction on roads during winter weather conditions.
Uses of Ammonia
Ammonium is frequently mixed with Urea and other organic or mineral compounds to create Ammonium Nitrate based fertilizers that are commonly used in agriculture. Ammonia is the fourth most abundant element on the planet and Ammonia gas is a byproduct of industrial activities such as fossil fuel combustion, animal waste management, municipal sewage treatment plants, mining, natural gas processing to name a few. Ammonia is also used as Ammonia or Ammonium Hydroxide (NH4OH) in the manufacturing of Ammonium Chloride and Ammonium Sulphate, Ammonium Nitrate can be manufactured from Ammonia.
Ammonium is more expensive to produce than other fertilizers such as Potassium based fertilizers. Ammonium-based fertilizers are most commonly used on Amelanchier lamarckii, Amelanchier Canadensis, Amelanchier laevis, and Amelanchier Arborea Amelanchier species known as Shadblow Serviceberry or Juneberry in the eastern United States. Ammonium is also found naturally in Ammonium bicarbonate, Ammonium Carbamate, Ammonium formate, and Ammonium nitrate. Ammonia is used in the production of paints, lubricants, and explosives where Ammonia dissolves oil, grease, and other impurities from clothing or equipment.
Natural Fertilizer – Potassium Nitrate:
Amelanchier plants are vulnerable to dehydration from Ammonium based fertilizers, Amelanchier plants absorb Ammonium through their leaves and Amelanchier root systems are not good Ammonia absorbers. Amelanchier roots are shallow growing, so Ammonium leaching is a problem. Ammonium causes poor fruit development and shriveled or scorched fruits on Amelanchier species.
Potassium is absorbed by Amelanchier roots much faster than Ammonium Potassium does not scorch the leaves of Amelanchier plants and Potassium does not cause shriveled fruit on Amelanchier. Potassium-based fertilizers have a tendency to increase the size or volume of fruits produced on Amelanchier plants while Potassium increases bud and fruit production. Potassium fertilizer is more effective than Ammonium for increasing the size or volume of fruits on Amelanchier species.
Potassium-based fertilizers such as Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Sulfate are fairly stable substances that do not have the same explosive properties as Ammonium Nitrate. Potassium-based fertilizers are more effective than Nitrogen-based fertilizers for medicinal herb production including Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) and Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis). Potassium is the primary cation in plants. It plays an integral role in photosynthesis and Potassium stabilizes other minerals like Magnesium. And it is a required component of plant cell structures.
Potassium Chloride deficiency symptoms include leaf chlorosis (yellowing) followed by dark green interveinal areas or irregular brown spots on leaves. Potassium-based fertilizers are more often used in organic gardening and natural landscaping. Potassium fertilizers dissolve much slower than Ammonium fertilizer. Potassium-based fertilizers may be applied early in the season to promote quicker root growth.
Potassium fertilizer is best if you can get it into the soil at least 30 days before planting (soil acidity preferred pH 5.5 – 6.0). Potassium Nitrate is used to manufacture explosives. Whereas, Potassium Sulfate (Potash) is used in glass production. Muriate of Potash is used by the food and beverage industry for an instant softened water and as a buffering agent to neutralize acids.
Potassium Chloride is also used in deicing salts. While Potassium Bromide Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Iodate, and Potassium Oxalate are used to manufacture photographic film. Ammonium is more commonly found in products containing Baking Soda, Baking Powder, and as an acid neutralizer in household cleaners.
Potassium-based Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Sulfate are used to manufacture gunpowder and fireworks. It is the most abundant mineral in the human body (about 99%). Potassium burns at a white-hot temperature of 515 degrees Centigrade. It can be found in almost all foods including Artichokes, Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Spinach. It is absorbed by the human body at a constant rate of about 1 gram per hour. Potassium binds with Chlorine to make Potassium Chloride.
It is used in manufacturing glass Potassium Hydroxide (Lye). Potassium Iodate is used in photography. It is involved in the growth and maintenance of plants. Potassium Sulfate (Potash), Potassium Chloride, Potassium Nitrate, Potassium Oxalate, and Potassium Hydroxide are all examples of different types of Potassium. Potash is used as a soil conditioner. It can be found in almost all living things. Potassium is found naturally in the human body and therefore it does not need to be taken daily.
Potassium is an essential macronutrient for humans, animals, and plants. Potash (Potassium) is a major component of cell structures, photosynthesis, and chlorophyll production. Each plant contains an adequate amount of Potassium for its own needs. If it has absorbed the proper amount of Potash in its environment. Evaluating a plant’s Potassium levels will help you determine which type of Potash fertilizer is needed to enhance your plants
With the global population growing and shrinking natural resources, it’s crucial to find ways to maximize efficiency in agriculture. One way is by using ammonium fertilizers rather than potassium fertilizers for certain plants like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants. Ammonium can be expensive but has proven higher yields of these types of crops while saving on water use. Since less nitrogen needs to be applied for the plant roots to uptake the nutrients necessary. If you are a gardener looking for an efficient fertilizer. Try ammonium, it will provide your crop with plenty of essential minerals without breaking the bank. You may also want to consider applying this technique where there is little access to potash as well.