Fertilizer is an integral need in the agricultural industry. Cultivated plants certainly need nutrients to grow thickly and healthily. Fertilizer helps plant growth by improving the structure of the soil where the plants are grown. Synthetic fertilizers on the market generally represent 3 elements, namely NPK or nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Fertilizers that are included in the N type include urea, ammonium nitrate, and ammonium sulfate. Included in P fertilizer include superphosphate and TSP (Triple Super Phosphate). What is included in type K fertilizer is potassium sulfate and potassium chloride
Ammonium sulfate is a compound that has the chemical formula NH4)2SO4. Ammonium sulfate is an inorganic salt. This compound has common use as a fertilizer because of its several advantages. Ammonium sulfate contains 21% Nitrogen and 24% Sulfur.
Ammonium sulfate is synthesized by reacting ammonia gas and sulfuric acid in a reactor at a temperature of 60 °C. Another reaction that can be carried out to create ammonium sulfate is by reacting calcium carbonate (CaSO4) with gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O). Fine gypsum is added to the ammonium carbonate solution. The calcium carbonate precipitates as a solid, leaving ammonium sulfate in solution. Naturally, ammonium sulfate is found as the rare mineral mascagnite in volcanic fumaroles, namely holes or fissures on the Earth’s surface that release hot gases, water vapor and other chemical vapors originating from geothermal activity below the surface. Ammonium sulfate is also present in the aftermath of coal fires in several rubbish dumps.
Plants need nutrients to be able to grow and bear fruit. With the increasing need for plant-based food, various innovations have been developed to find the best compounds as fertilizer. One area of concern is the use of ammonium sulfate as fertilizer. The various advantages of ammonium sulfate as a fertilizer include regulating pH levels in plants, high nitrogen levels, preventing sulfur deficiency, good solubility, and no chloride content.
Regulates pH Levels in Soil
Ammonium sulphate has a pH of 5.5. When ammonium sulphate is applied to soil, this compound will release ammonium ions which contribute to lowering the pH value in the soil. This advantage is generally expected when farmers are dealing with alkaline soil. Determining optimal pH levels is generally close to neutral or in the range 6.5 to 7.5. In general, macronutrients such as nitrogen (N), potassium (K) and sulfur (S) are not too affected by soil pH. However, there are types of elements that are not available when the soil pH is too acidic or too wet. Let’s take the example of the element phosphorus (P). In soil conditions that are too acidic, phosphorus will react with aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe) and create less soluble compounds. If the soil pH is too alkaline, phosphorus will react with magnesium (Mg) and calcium (Ca) and create a less soluble compound. Less soluble compounds will mean that elements cannot be completely absorbed by plant roots, because as is known, water is a kind of means of transportation for these elements. This dilemma requires ground conditions that are close to neutral as a solution to the above conditions.
High Nitrogen Levels
Nitrogen is a component of the chlorophyll molecule which has the function of capturing sunlight and providing energy to plants. The energy produced is directly proportional to the growth of the plant. Ammonium sulfate has advantages thanks to its high nitrogen content. Research states that a nitrogen level of 40 ppm is needed to be considered sufficient. To optimally determine whether additional nitrogen is needed in the soil, a soil test can be carried out between late fall and early spring.
Prevention of Sulphur Deficiency
Sulfur (S) is an important element in plant growth. The uses of sulfur include supporting nitrogen metabolism, enzyme activity, and oil and protein synthesis. In general, plants that lack sulfur will experience morphological changes. These changes are yellowing leaves and short, thin stems. In other cases that occur in canola plants that lack sulfur, the plants experience changes such as young leaves being purple and curling upwards, flowering being delayed and prolonged, flowers are pale, and the pods are fewer and smaller. Sulfur deficiency can be overcome by using ammonium sulfate which contains sulfur.
The good ingredients in a fertilizer will be useless if the fertilizer is unable to dissolve in water. Water has a very vital role in plant growth. Water acts as a ‘vehicle’ for plant nutritional elements to be absorbed by the plant roots. Ammonium sulfate, on the other hand, has excellent solubility of 70.6 g/100ml. Ammonium sulfate has very good solubility in water because the ions contained in this compound are Nh4+ (ammonium) and SO42- (sulfate). Ammonium ions have a positive charge and can form hydrogen bonds with water molecules which have a partially negative charge on oxygen and hydrogen. Sulfate ions can also form hydrogen bonds with water. Although sulfate has a negative charge, electrostatic interactions and hydrogen bonding allow its solution in water.
Does not Contain Chloride
In fact, chlorine (Cl) is a nutrient in plants, but excessive amounts of chlorine will hurt plants that are sensitive to chlorine. Agricultural commodities that are sensitive to chlorine are potatoes, pineapples, oranges, chilies, tomatoes, cabbage, grapes, shallots, strawberries, mangoes, peppers, apples, durian, tobacco, avocados, melons and cocoa. High chloride content can cause low chlorophyll content in leaves (yellowing leaves) and low sugar content in fruit. Ammonium sulfate is a suitable choice to overcome this risk because there is no chlorine content in this compound.
With the increasing demand for food, fertilizer is very important in growing plants because of the nutrients it contains. In the NPK abbreviation, ammonium sulfate is an N-type fertilizer that has many advantages. The advantages of ammonium sulfate fertilizer are regulating pH levels in plants, high nitrogen levels, preventing sulfur deficiency, good solubility, and no chloride content. These benefits are obtained through the combination of ammonium ions and sulfate ions contained in it.
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