What is Fertilizer?

Fertilizers are food for plants that improves the growth of plants and the fertility of soils. Fertilizers come in two basic types: organic and synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made from natural, organic (living) materials, such as peat moss, bone, seaweed, composted plant materials, and animal manure. Synthetic or inorganic fertilizers are manufactured chemically or produced from rocks and minerals.

What is Agribusiness?

The term agribusiness is a generic term that can be defined as “all enterprises that assemble, process and transform raw agricultural commodities into final products for distribution to local and international consumers”. Agribusiness includes not only the farmer, but also companies that provide the inputs (seeds, chemicals, machinery, credit etc) process the output (rice, Milk, grain, meat etc.), manufacture the food products (cheese, bread, breakfast cereals etc.) transport and marketing of farm products to consumers (warehouses, wholesalers, processors, retailers, restaurants, supermarkets)

What is a Hub Agro Dealer?

The term Hub agro-dealer refers to a hub farm retailer that provides a place for the wholesale of inputs and crop produce.  Use of “hub” agro-dealers enhances service orientation and builds a strong foundation for input market development.

The hub agro-dealer model places agro-dealers at the center of their communities, ensuring that smallholder farmers cut down on transport costs hence availability of inputs within their geographical locality.

The hub agro-dealers based in certain towns are strengthened and linked to all retail agro-dealers as well as to input suppliers. The hub agro-dealers become the focal point for input suppliers introducing products onto the market, like newly-released crop varieties. They work with fertilizer and other agricultural input companies to demonstrate and promote new products.

The hub agro-dealer is the best source of information on product acceptance, pricing, quality, competition, market conditions, and inputs demand and helps in planning marketing strategies.

Why do farmers need to use fertilizer?

All the nutrients in our food originally come from the soil. In order to create healthy crops full of nutrients, farmers need to work with healthy soil.

As crops grow they remove nutrients, such as compounds of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, from the soil. If this process is repeated for a number of years the supply of nutrients in the soil is exhausted. The land becomes less fertile, so plants grow poorly and produce only a small yield.

To retain soil fertility, farmers use fertilizer to replenish soil nutrients that their next crop will require. The fertilizer replaces the nutrients removed when produce from the land is harvested. Fertilizer allows soils to maintain or increase plant growth and provides essential nutrients for animal health.

What do the numbers on a fertilizer bag represent?  

Most fertilizer blends consist largely of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These three elements make up the largest bulk and cost of most blends. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (N-P-K) are also present in plant tissue on a percentage scale on a dry weight basis.

The three numbers on the label indicate the amounts or percentages of nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K) in the fertilizer. For example, a 16-4-8 contains 16% nitrogen, 4% phosphate and 8% potash.

Phosphorus-free fertilizer has a zero (0) in the middle.

What is soil testing?

All the activities related to agriculture revolves around soil as the primary resource.

Soil testing is an important management practice on all farms, whether growing vegetables for fresh market or pasture for livestock.  It’s nearly impossible to determine what a soil needs to be productive, without a soil analysis.

There are many types of soil analysis available depending on what information you are seeking.  To find out what is needed to improve the soil’s quality, the following attributes of the soil need to be known:

  • Current pH levels of the soil
  • Fertility levels of the principal nutrients
  • Type and quantity of lime the soil needs
  • Nutrients need to be added to the soil as fertilizer
  • Amount of fertilizer the crop and soil needs

However, a soil test cannot do any of the following:

  • Tell you which crop to grow
  • Prevent poor crops caused by drought, disease, insects, too much water, or other problems
  • Substitute for best agricultural practices
  • Replace good management