Wheat illustration

Three Important Building Blocks of NPK Fertilizer

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Food consumed by humans can come from animal or vegetable sources. Vegetable sources are obtained from crops. Crops that are ready for harvest can then be eaten directly by humans or processed further.

Crops take time to be harvested. During the growing period, substances or chemicals called fertilizer may be added to crops. What is the primary purpose of adding fertilizer to crops? Why do crops require fertilizer?

What is fertilizer?

Fertilizer is used to promote crop growth so that crops can grow at an optimal rate. Depending upon the content, fertilizer contains macronutrients and micronutrients. One of the fertilizers that typically contain the major macronutrients is NPK fertilizers.

How about NPK fertilizer?

What does NPK stand for in fertilizer? NPK stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). NPK fertilizer is a fertilizer that contains those three macronutrients.

In addition to macronutrients, some fertilizer manufacturers also add micronutrients. Several micronutrients such as chloride, iron, calcium, sulfur, copper, zinc, etc. are added for specific applications. 

The forms of NPK fertilizers products circulating on the market are diverse. Solid NPK fertilizers can be in the form of tablets, pellets, briquettes, granules, and powders.

Liquid NPK fertilizers are available in a variety of solubility levels. NPK fertilizer suppliers may provide different NPK fertilizers with various compositions depending on the crop’s needs.

Each nutrient in NPK fertilizer has a different role in helping crop growth. All three are primary macronutrients because they are most needed by crops. What are the roles of these three macronutrients on crops?

  1. Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen is needed as the crop enters the growth or vegetative period. Elemental nitrogen acts as a building block for proteins, amino acids, chlorophyll, and other compounds.

The nitrogenous compounds work to stimulate crop growth during the vegetative period. They can also multiply the stems and give the crops a greener color. Nitrogen offer benefits for almost every type of crop.

Therefore, nitrogen makes crops green since nitrogen makes up part of the chlorophyll in crops. However, keep in mind that nitrogen does not always provide benefits to crops. Excessive nitrogen can give negative effects on crops, such as:

  • Pests and diseases have a better chance of attacking crops that are too green or high in nitrogen
  • Crops will become weaker and tend to water more
  • Reduced seed production
  • Late ripening of fruit
  • Lowers soil pH

During the wet or rainy season, nitrogen fertilizer uses should be reduced. This can be explained by the fact that rainwater itself already contains nitrogen.

In addition to excess nitrogen, a lack of nitrogen can also have a negative impact on crops, such as:

  • Plants will turn yellow due to a lack of nitrogen
  • The slower growth rate of crops
  • The size of crops will be thinner and stunted

As a solution, besides NPK fertilizer, nitrogen-containing fertilizers such as urea fertilizer, ammonium chloride fertilizer, and ammonium sulfate fertilizer can be added.

2. Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is a nutrient that plays a role from the vegetative to the generative period of plants. This means that the phosphorus element acts as the initial plantation phase up to the end of the plant phase. 

Phosphorus is involved in protein formation and cell division. This means that phosphorus plays a role in stimulating root development and strengthening plant stems. Phosphorus also accelerates fruit ripening and improves the quality of crop yields.

However, the phosphorus given should not be excessive since it will trigger adverse effects. The adverse effects will be disturbing other microelements such as iron, copper, and zinc.

Phosphorus deficiency can also have adverse effects on crops such as:

  • Crops will fall off more easily
  • The color of the leaves of the plant becomes purplish and tends to be gray
  • The edges of the leaves become brown 
  • The bones of the young leaves are dark green
  • The leaves become smaller and stunted
  • Slow growth phase

To overcome the deficiency, applying phosphorus fertilizers such as ammonium polyphosphate fertilizer and diammonium phosphate fertilizer are recommended.

3. Potassium (K)

Potassium plays a role in regulating processes such as photosynthesis, transport, carbohydrates, translocation, carbohydrates, opening, and closing of stomata.

This element is closely related to calcium and magnesium, although potassium is classified as a macronutrient. Potassium is more easily absorbed by plants compared to calcium and magnesium.

Excess potassium may interfere with the absorption of Ca and Mg. As the result, it is making it more difficult for plants to grow or become deficient.

While the lack of potassium elements can be seen in side effects such as:

  • Leaves burn and fall
  • Flowers fall easily
  • scorched leaf edges
  • Easily attacked by plant diseases

Potassium deficiency in the crops can be solved by applying chemicals such as monopotassium phosphate fertilizer or dipotassium phosphate fertilizer.

Does adding fertilizer matter for crops?

Crops may grow without fertilizer, as long as the macronutrients and micronutrients occurring in the soil is sufficient. However, adding chemical fertilizers to the soil allow crops to grow in an optimum condition.

Adding chemical fertilizers are critical since it can prevent or avoid the effects resulting from the lack of macronutrients. These main macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium-based fertilizer are abbreviated as NPK fertilizer which stands for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). By adding the NPK fertilizer in an exact amount, the NPK fertilizer will allow crops to grow and harvest faster.

Tradeasia International as a global fertilizer chemicals supplier including urea, ammonium chloride, and monopotassium phosphate provides various grades for the industry. Get urea, ammonium chloride, monopotassium phosphate, or other NPK fertilizer right now.  


  1. Malghani, A. L., Malik, A. U., Sattar, A., Hussain, F., Abbas, G., & Hussain, J. (2010). Response of growth and yield of wheat to NPK fertilizer. Sci. Int.(Lahore)24(2), 185-189.
  2. Adekiya, A. O., & Agbede, T. M. (2009). Growth and yield of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) as influenced by poultry manure and NPK fertilizer. Emir. J. Food Agric21(1), 10-20.
  3. Ayoola, O. T., & Adeniyan, O. N. (2006). Influence of poultry manure and NPK fertilizer on yield and yield components of crops under different cropping systems in south west Nigeria. African journal of biotechnology5(15).

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