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Agriculture

Periodic Graphics: The elements of fertilizers

Chemical educator and Compound Interest blogger Andy Brunning digs into how plant fertilizers make use of the periodic table.

by Andy Brunning
March 22, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 11

 

Andy Brunning/C&EN
Andy Brunning/C&EN

To download a pdf of this article, visit http://cenm.ag/fertilizers


References used to create this graphic:

“A Crash Course in Fertilizers: NPK Ratios, Synthetic vs. Organic, and More.” Sunset, Sept. 3, 2004.

Dimech, Adam. “The Potassium Myth.” The Story of Flowers. Updated Feb. 10, 2013.

Scherer, H. W. “Fertilizers and Fertilization.” In Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment, edited by Daniel Hillel, 20–26. Elsevier, 2005.

Solution Center for Nutrient Management. “Crop Nutrient Requirements.” Accessed March 5, 2020.


A collaboration between C&EN and Andy Brunning, author of the popular graphics blog Compound Interest

To see more of Brunning’s work, go to compoundchem.com. To see all of C&EN’s Periodic Graphics, visit cenm.ag/periodicgraphics.

 

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Comments
Chris Underwood, Ph.D. (March 25, 2020 10:28 AM)
As a research chemist who works in the agriculture industry, I can appreciate the graphic that Mr. Brunning has constructed. It gives an idea of the importance of fertilizers that agronomists can use at the grower level.

However, this is missing one key element: silicon. Silicon is used by plants (in the silicate form) to strengthen their cell wall, in conjuction with potassium and calcium. It is an important and rarely mentioned essential element that should be mentioned more often. I would direct you to the work of Dr. Lawrence Datnoff at Louisiana State University for more information. Prof. Datnoff is considered the foremost expert on the function of silicon in plants.
Dan Casagrande Ph.D. (March 25, 2020 2:12 PM)
I am in the 50+ year ACS membership category...I find these articles timely, focused, well written, and filled with practical, easy to understand information.

Thanks for stepping up to the plate and not only hitting a homerun, but you continue to hit the ball out of the park!!!

Proud to be an ACS member!

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