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Manures And Fertilisers

Manures and fertilisers enhance fertility of soil. If crops are grown on a piece of land one after the other, minerals of the soil get depleted and soil becomes infertile. The crop yield becomes low. Repeated growing of crops removes the three most important elements (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) from the soil. Manures and fertilisers are added to the soil to make up for the loss of these elements.



Manures are natural fertilisers which are being used since ancient days. Manure consists of organic substances obtained from the decomposition of animal wastes, dead plants and animals by the action of microbes. Manures add small quantities of nutrients and large quantities of organic matter to the soil, thus making soil soft for the better growth of plant.

Manures are of the following three types:

Farmyard manure (FYM)
 is the decomposed mixture of cattle excreta (dung), litter (bedding material for animals) and leftover organic matter (roughage or fodder). FYM is rich in potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. It contains about 0.5% potassium oxide, 0.15% phosphorus pentoxide and 0.5% nitrogen.

 is prepared from straw, sewage waste, vegetables and animal refuse, weeds etc. It is a biological process in which aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms decompose sewage wastes into compost. Decomposition occurs from 3 to 6 months. Compost prepared from garbage and town soil contains 1.4% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus and 1.4% potassium.

Green manuring
 is the practice of ploughing green legume-bearing plants into the soil for improving its fertility. Crotalaria juncea (sun hemp) and Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (guar) are commonly grown for this purpose. These crops are grown and ploughed into the field before flowering. This makes the field suitable for the cultivation of wheat, rice, maize etc., which require a lot of nutrients.



Fertilisers are inorganic chemicals synthesised in industries. They contain essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They are prepared in a concentrated form. Hence, it is easy to transport them.

Types of Fertilisers

Nitrogenous fertilisers are rich in nitrogen elements. These are urea, sodium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate and calcium ammonium nitrate.

Phosphatic fertilisers
 are rich in phosphorus. These are phosphate and superphosphate. Phosphatic fertilisers are good for better fruit production.

Potassic fertilisers
 are rich in potassium, a macronutrient of the plant. These are potassium chloride, potassium sulphate and potassium nitrate.

Complex fertilisers
 contain two or three elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These are urea ammonium phosphate, nitro phosphate and diammonium phosphate.

 are biologically active products of bacteria, algae and fungi. They enrich the soil nutrients, especially nitrogen. Biofertilisers are used for specific crops such as legumes (pulses), oil seeds and rice. Some of the biofertilisers used in India are Rhizobium in leguminous plants, Anabaena in Azolla and free-living bacteria in soils such as Azatobacter and Bacillus polymyxa.






Semi-decomposed organic matter.

Chemical formulations.


Prepared from natural materials such as plant residues and animal residues

Synthetic being formed from chemical salts

Mineral content

Contains only a small quantity of mineral salts

Contains pure mineral salts or their precursors


Not nutrient specific

Nutrient specific

Organic matter

Adds organic matter to the soil

No addition of organic matter


Required in large quantity

Required in small quantity

Nutrient availability

Nutrient availability is moderate. Nutrients are released slowly

Possesses readily available plant nutrients


Manure is bulky. It is very difficult to transport it to longer distances

It has smaller bulk. Fertilisers can, therefore, be transported easily to long distances


Cannot be stored for long duration

Can be stored for long duration


Helps in maintaining soil texture, its hydration and aeration

Can harm soil texture and other soil characters


Excess manure is not much harmful

Excess fertiliser is harmful to plants. It also causes pollution

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