Types of fertilizers

Plant nutrients can be provided by mineral, organic or organo-mineral fertilizers, as well as through natural processes such as biological nitrogen fixation or the weathering of soil minerals.

The fertilizer industry produces mineral or manufactured fertilizers. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, or NPK, are the primary nutrients in manufactured fertilizers.

Plants absorb more nitrogen than any other element. Nitrogen is essential in the formation of protein, and protein makes up the tissues of most living things.

Phosphorous supports a plant’s ability to use and store energy, this includes the process of photosynthesis. In manufactured fertilizers, phosphorous comes from phosphate rock, which is mined from the ground in certain parts of the world.

Potassium helps plants resist disease and has an important role in increasing crop yields and quality. Potassium also protects the plant in cold or dry conditions, strengthening its root system.

A wide range of products supplying one or more essential mineral nutrients are available to farmers.

Growers can combine their fertilizer applications with plant biostimulants—a tool for sustainable agriculture.

Plant biostimulants are products that contain substances or micro-organisms that stimulate the natural processes of plants and soils that lead to benefits such as better nutrient uptake, more resistance to abiotic stress such as high temperatures, and improved yield and crop quality.

Discover more about biostimulants in our backgrounder:

An Introduction to Biostimulants

An Introduction to Biostimulants

What are plant biostimulants?
Plant biostimulants are products that contain substances and/or micro-organisms whose function when applied to plants or the rhizosphere is to stimulate natural processes independently of the product's nutrient content to henhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, yield, and crop quality.

Read more

Fertilizer Facts

IFA has developed the Fertilizer Facts Series to share some information on the important issues shaping the industry in a simple and straightforward way.

This is a tool designed to enhance knowledge of fertilizers and our industry. Feel free to download them, and share them with your own networks.

TitleYearRestrictedDate PubDownload
Fertilizer Use in Sub-Saharan Africa. How Far Are We from the Abuja Target? - Read More ... 2015Public3/30/2015Download4925e85a0bba-f889-4c5f-b351-334347a8bf4e
Phosphate Supply: What you Need to Know to Understand Current Trends - Read More ... 2015Public2/2/2015Download49187f57d6c9-b2f4-4eef-bb03-2486909b4c65
Charting the Way to Optimal Performance. Environmental Performance Benchmarking for the Fertilizer Industry - Read More ... 2014Public11/18/2014Download489150a7412a-1f22-444a-a067-4a85325d11b8
Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Different Parts of the World - Read More ... 2015Public10/26/2014Download4889545f9c54-2171-4a18-8119-54d745e1882d
Nitrogen Production: Why Energy Feedstock Trends Are Important - Read More ... 2014Public9/16/2014Download488651f326fc-e64f-4507-83a0-31b2afab8bb3
Ammonia Production: Moving Towards Maximum Efficiency and Lower GHG Emissions - Read More ... 2014Public7/23/2014Download4882c5382689-c584-4beb-817e-c93bb6da02ac
Fertilizers Are Crucial for Closing the 'Yield Gap' - Read More ... 2014Public5/21/2014Download4824582fa7ab-0f40-40b2-a62b-c61976f254ac

IFA Publications

Fertilizers and their Efficient Use Fertilizers and their Efficient Use
Nutrient Management Handbook Nutrient Management Handbook