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Q & A : Controlled Slow Release Fertilizers

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What are Controlled Slow Release Fertilizers (CSRF)?

Slow and controlled release fertilizers are fertilizers containing a plant nutrient in a form which either, (a) delays its availability for plant uptake and use after application, or (b) is available to the plant significantly longer than a reference ‘rapidly available nutrient fertilizer” such as ammonium nitrate or urea, ammonium phosphate or potassium chloride.

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What are the advantages of Controlled Slow Release Fertilizers?

  1. They reduce toxicity (particularly to seedlings), which is caused through high ionic concentrations resulting from the quick dissolution of conventional soluble fertilizers (in some cases also from ammonia, for instance after application of urea) and thus contribute to improved agronomic safety.Due to the reduction of toxicity and the salt content of substrates, they permit the application of substantially larger fertilizer dressings (depot fertilization reducing the application frequency) as compared to conventional soluble fertilizers.This results in significant savings in labour, time and energy, as well as in making the use of fertilizer more convenient.The latter factor constitutes the greatest advantage to the majority of present users of controlled release fertilizers.
  2. They contribute to advanced fertilizer management programmes and to innovative farming systems such as no-tillage farming with single co-situs fertilizer application.
  3. They permit the meeting of the full nutrient requirements of crops grown under plastic cover (protected crop cultivation), and multi cropping by a single fertilizer application.
  4. They significantly reduce possible losses of nutrients, particularly losses of nitrate nitrogen, between applications and uptake by the plant through gradual nutrient release.They also reduce evaporation losses of ammonia, which substantially decreases the risk of environmental pollution.
  5. They also contribute to a reduction in relevant gas emissions (N2O).
  6. They prevent nitrogen-induced deficiency symptoms of micronutrients, which are usually caused by over supply of ammonium from commercial fertilizers.
  7. Reduce the hazard to germinating crops when used in high rates in or near the seed row.
  8. Safeguard the biological food value of produce by providing balanced nutrients to plants, and by the avoidance of flush growth.
  9. Useful as a binding agent which, apart from preventing leaching, can also be employed as a ‘glue’ to increase pesticide uptake.
  10. The increased decomposition of organic matter also results in increased humus production, which enhances the nutrient holding capacity of the soil.This provides a further safeguard for the controlled slow release of nutrients.

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