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How to Make Your Own Fertilizer

Updated: Sep 29, 2023


Make your own fertilizer

Whether you’re growing acres of crops or a small kitchen garden, fertilizer is an important part of making sure your plants are healthy and productive.


Making your own fertilizer is a great way to save money, reduce waste, and customize the amount of nutrients your plants need to thrive.


Read on to learn how you can use organic matter like compost and livestock bedding to make your own fertilizer on-farm.


Why is fertilizer important?

Fertilizer is a mixture of different types of nutrients that you feed your plants. It's important to understand what these nutrients are and how they work together, so you can choose the right fertilizer for your crops.


Fertilizer is also known as plant food, and it's an essential part of growing healthy crops. Without fertilizer, plants don’t have enough energy to grow and be as productive as possible. Your plants won't be as healthy. You can purchase pre-mixed fertilizer from your local farm supply store, but this comes with predetermined nutrient amounts. The benefit of making your own fertilizer is that you can customize how much of each nutrient is included, making it ideal for your crops and soil.


What nutrients are in fertilizer?

The five main ingredients in fertilizers are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K), calcium and magnesium. These elements make up more than 90% of plant material by weight.

Nitrogen is a gas that plants use to grow. Phosphorous helps plants grow new roots and leaves. Potassium helps plants grow strong stems and roots.


Fertilizer recipes vary depending on the type of plant you are growing; some fertilizers are made specifically for tomatoes or fruit trees, for example. Fertilizer recipes also vary based on whether you are using organic or non-organic ingredients.


How to determine the ratio of nutrients

The ratio of nutrients in fertilizer varies depending on what kind of plant you're feeding and its needs. The ratio can also be determined by a soil test, which will tell you what nutrients your crops need.


If you have sandy soil or live in an area with alkaline water (which is common), then the pH may be out of balance and will require additional adjustments before adding any fertilizer.

The best way to determine what your crops need is by testing the soil. There are many different kinds of soil tests, but most will provide you with a list of nutrients that are either in excess or deficient in your soil. From there, you can adjust your fertilizer ratio based on those results.


Can compost be used as fertilizer?

Compost is a great source of nutrients for your plants. Compost is made up of organic matter, such as leaves and livestock bedding, that has been broken down by beneficial microbes into nutrients that can be absorbed by plants.


These microbes also help break down organic matter in the soil, which helps retain moisture and nutrients. Adding compost to your crop acreage will give you healthy soil with more microorganisms than just plain dirt would have.


Compost can be used as a mulch, a soil amendment and even a fertilizer. It is easy to make your own compost or purchase it from local garden centers. Composting is also an effective way to reduce waste and save money!


If you're looking for something simple and easy, try mixing up some compost or worm castings with water into a liquid solution before applying it directly onto the soil around your plants.


Ingredients to make your own fertilizer

If you don’t have a compost pile, there are other ways to make your own fertilizer. Below are the most common ingredients in fertilizer. You can purchase these from your local farm supply store, or order them online. In some cases, you can even find them on your farm.


By purchasing them separately, you can choose how much of each nutrient goes into your fertilizer. This will help you to customize your fertilizer to your soil type and crops.


1. Urea

Urea is a nitrogen-rich compound that's produced by bacteria, and can be used as a fertilizer. It's also the main ingredient in many fertilizers. Urea comes from urine that has been filtered through the kidneys and excreted from the body.


easy way to add urea to your fertilizer is by adding used livestock bedding to your compost pile. You can also purchase urea from your local farm supply store.


2. Ammonia sulfate

Ammonia sulfate is a mixture of ammonia and sulfuric acid. It's used to make ammonium sulfate fertilizers, which are used on crops such as corn, wheat and potatoes.

Ammonia sulfate is produced by reacting ammonia with sulfuric acid. This reaction produces water as well as ammonium sulfate crystals that can be filtered out from the solution and dried in an oven.


Ammonia sulfate is also known as "salt cake" or "salt petre". It's a liquid fertilizer that has been used since ancient times for its ability to increase crop yields greatly when applied correctly - especially when mixed with other ingredients like animal manure or composted plant matter.


3. Solid Super phosphate

Solid super phosphate is a fertilizer made from ground rock phosphate. It's good for crops that need more phosphorus, such as corn, wheat and alfalfa.

To make solid super phosphate:

  • Add 80 pounds of ground rock phosphate to a 5-gallon bucket (about 2.5 gallons) of water. Mix well until all of the powder has dissolved in the water.

  • Pour this solution into another bucket and add another gallon of water to make sure there are no lumps left behind in your mixture.


4. Potassium chloride

Potassium chloride is a mineral salt that can be used to make fertilizer. This form of potassium is often used in the manufacture of potassium nitrate, potassium permanganate, and potassium chlorate.


5. Granular lime (optional)

Granular lime is a good option if you want to add a small amount of calcium and magnesium to your soil. It can be used in addition to bone meal or rock phosphate, or on its own if you don't have those materials available.


The amount of granular lime you need will depend on what kind of soil you have, how much nitrogen your plants are getting from other sources (like manure), and whether they need extra calcium or not.


How to make your own fertilizer

Now that you know the ingredients needed to make your own fertilizer, the next step is to mix together the correct amounts of each nutrient. The best way to know how much of each nutrient is ideal for your crops is to have your soil tested. This will let you know which nutrients your soil has in excess and is deficient in, so you can tailor your fertilizer to suit your specific situation.


When you’re ready to mix together your ingredients, you’ll want to add water to the mixture and apply them to your fields using a tractor or other type of machinery.


Here is a calculator to find the ratios you need.


Conclusion

When you're growing crops or gardening, the work doesn't stop at planting. You also need to keep your plants healthy by making sure they get all the nutrients they need.

Making your own fertilizer on-farm is an easy way to save money, reduce waste, and customize nutrients to your plants’ needs. It is a great way to recycle used livestock bedding and manure, as well.



Farmbrite is an all-in-one farm software that can help you keep track of your soil samples, soil ratios and many other helpful items on your farm. Try us free for 14 days.



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