A report on Fertilizer

A farmer spreading manure to improve soil fertility
World population supported with and without synthetic nitrogen fertilizers.
Founded in 1812, Mirat, producer of manures and fertilizers, is claimed to be the oldest industrial business in Salamanca (Spain).
Six tomato plants grown with and without nitrate fertilizer on nutrient-poor sand/clay soil. One of the plants in the nutrient-poor soil has died.
Inorganic fertilizer use by region
Total nitrogenous fertilizer consumption per region, measured in tonnes of total nutrient per year.
An apatite mine in Siilinjärvi, Finland.
Compost bin for small-scale production of organic fertilizer
A large commercial compost operation
Applying superphosphate fertilizer by hand, New Zealand, 1938
Fertilizer burn
N-Butylthiophosphoryltriamide, an enhanced efficiency fertilizer.
Fertilizer use (2018). From FAO's World Food and Agriculture – Statistical Yearbook 2020
The diagram displays the statistics of fertilizer consumption in western and central European counties from data published by The World Bank for 2012.
Runoff of soil and fertilizer during a rain storm
Large pile of phosphogypsum waste near Fort Meade, Florida.
Red circles show the location and size of many dead zones.
Global methane concentrations (surface and atmospheric) for 2005; note distinct plumes

Any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or to plant tissues to supply plant nutrients.

- Fertilizer
A farmer spreading manure to improve soil fertility

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Daniel Rutherford, discoverer of nitrogen

Nitrogen

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Chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7.

Chemical element with the symbol N and atomic number 7.

Daniel Rutherford, discoverer of nitrogen
The shapes of the five orbitals occupied in nitrogen. The two colours show the phase or sign of the wave function in each region. From left to right: 1s, 2s (cutaway to show internal structure), 2px, 2py, 2pz.
Table of nuclides (Segrè chart) from carbon to fluorine (including nitrogen). Orange indicates proton emission (nuclides outside the proton drip line); pink for positron emission (inverse beta decay); black for stable nuclides; blue for electron emission (beta decay); and violet for neutron emission (nuclides outside the neutron drip line). Proton number increases going up the vertical axis and neutron number going to the right on the horizontal axis.
Molecular orbital diagram of dinitrogen molecule, N2. There are five bonding orbitals and two antibonding orbitals (marked with an asterisk; orbitals involving the inner 1s electrons not shown), giving a total bond order of three.
Solid nitrogen on the plains of Sputnik Planitia on Pluto next to water ice mountains
Structure of [Ru(NH3)5(N2)]2+ (pentaamine(dinitrogen)ruthenium(II)), the first dinitrogen complex to be discovered
Mesomeric structures of borazine, (–BH–NH–)3
Standard reduction potentials for nitrogen-containing species. Top diagram shows potentials at pH 0; bottom diagram shows potentials at pH 14.
Nitrogen trichloride
Nitrogen dioxide at −196 °C, 0 °C, 23 °C, 35 °C, and 50 °C. converts to colourless dinitrogen tetroxide at low temperatures, and reverts to  at higher temperatures.
Fuming nitric acid contaminated with yellow nitrogen dioxide
Schematic representation of the flow of nitrogen compounds through a land environment
A container vehicle carrying liquid nitrogen.

Synthetically produced ammonia and nitrates are key industrial fertilisers, and fertiliser nitrates are key pollutants in the eutrophication of water systems.

Ball-and-stick model of the diamminesilver(I) cation, [Ag(NH3)2]+

Ammonia

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Compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3.

Compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3.

Ball-and-stick model of the diamminesilver(I) cation, [Ag(NH3)2]+
Ball-and-stick model of the tetraamminediaquacopper(II) cation, [Cu(NH3)4(H2O)2](2+)
Jabir ibn Hayyan
This high-pressure reactor was built in 1921 by BASF in Ludwigshafen and was re-erected on the premises of the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.
A train carrying Anhydrous Ammonia.
Liquid ammonia bottle
Household ammonia
Ammoniacal Gas Engine Streetcar in New Orleans drawn by Alfred Waud in 1871.
The X-15 aircraft used ammonia as one component fuel of its rocket engine
Anti-meth sign on tank of anhydrous ammonia, Otley, Iowa. Anhydrous ammonia is a common farm fertilizer that is also a critical ingredient in making methamphetamine. In 2005, Iowa used grant money to give out thousands of locks to prevent criminals from getting into the tanks.
The world's longest ammonia pipeline (roughly 2400 km long), running from the TogliattiAzot plant in Russia to Odessa in Ukraine
Hydrochloric acid sample releasing HCl fumes, which are reacting with ammonia fumes to produce a white smoke of ammonium chloride.
Production trend of ammonia between 1947 and 2007
Main symptoms of hyperammonemia (ammonia reaching toxic concentrations).
Ammonia occurs in the atmospheres of the outer giant planets such as Jupiter (0.026% ammonia), Saturn (0.012% ammonia), and in the atmospheres and ices of Uranus and Neptune.

Biologically, it is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, and it contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to 45 percent of the world's food and fertilizers.

White phosphorus exposed to air glows in the dark

Phosphorus

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Chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15.

Chemical element with the symbol P and atomic number 15.

White phosphorus exposed to air glows in the dark
The tetrahedral structure of P4O10 and P4S10.
A stable diphosphene, a derivative of phosphorus(I).
Robert Boyle
Guano mining in the Central Chincha Islands, ca. 1860.
Mining of phosphate rock in Nauru
Match striking surface made of a mixture of red phosphorus, glue and ground glass. The glass powder is used to increase the friction.
Phosphorus explosion

The vast majority of phosphorus compounds mined are consumed as fertilisers.

Ammonium nitrate

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Chemical compound with the chemical formula NH4NO3.

Chemical compound with the chemical formula NH4NO3.

It is predominantly used in agriculture as a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

Community-level composting in a rural area in Germany

Compost

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Mixture of ingredients used to fertilize and improve the soil.

Mixture of ingredients used to fertilize and improve the soil.

Community-level composting in a rural area in Germany
Home compost barrel
Compost bins at the Evergreen State College Organic Farm in Washington State
Materials in a compost pile
Food scraps compost heap
Three year old household compost
A large compost pile that is steaming with the heat generated by thermophilic microorganisms.
Backyard composter
An almost completed hügelkultur bed; the bed does not have soil on it yet.
Compost used as fertilizer
A kitchen compost bin is used to transport compostable items to an outdoor compost bin.
Compost basket

The benefits of compost include providing nutrients to crops as fertilizer, acting as a soil conditioner, increasing the humus or humic acid contents of the soil, and introducing beneficial colonies of microbes that help to suppress pathogens in the soil.

Schematic representation of the nitrogen cycle. Abiotic nitrogen fixation has been omitted.

Nitrogen fixation

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Chemical process by which molecular nitrogen, with a strong triple covalent bond, in the air is converted into ammonia or related nitrogenous compounds, typically in soil or aquatic systems but also in industry.

Chemical process by which molecular nitrogen, with a strong triple covalent bond, in the air is converted into ammonia or related nitrogenous compounds, typically in soil or aquatic systems but also in industry.

Schematic representation of the nitrogen cycle. Abiotic nitrogen fixation has been omitted.
Nodules are visible on this broad bean root
A sectioned alder tree root nodule
Equipment for a study of nitrogen fixation by alpha rays (Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory, 1926)
Lightning heats the air around it breaking the bonds of starting the formation of nitrous acid.

As part of the nitrogen cycle, it is essential for agriculture and the manufacture of fertilizer.

Eutrophication

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Process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus.

Process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus.

1. Excess nutrients are applied to the soil. 2. Some nutrients leach into the soil and later drain into surface water. 3. Some nutrients run off over the ground into the body of water.  4. The excess nutrients cause an algal bloom.  5. The algal bloom reduces light penetration. 6. The plants beneath the algal bloom die because they cannot get sunlight to perform photosynthesis.  7. Eventually, the algal bloom dies and sinks to the bottom of the lake. Bacterial communities begin to decompose the remains, using up oxygen for respiration.  8. The decomposition causes the water to become depleted of oxygen if the water body is not regularly mixed vertically. Larger life forms, such as fish die.
Sodium triphosphate, once a component of many detergents, was a major contributor to eutrophication.
Cultural eutrophication is caused by human additions of nutrients into the water that cause over growth of algae which can block light and air exchange. The algae eventually are broken down by bacteria causing anoxic conditions and "dead zones".
Aerial view of Lake Valencia experiencing a large cultural eutrophication flux due to untreated wastewater discharging into the lake.
Eutrophication is apparent as increased turbidity in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, imaged from orbit.
Map of measured Gulf hypoxia zone, July 25–31, 2021-LUMCON-NOAA
Oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) (blue) and areas with coastal hypoxia (red) in the world’s ocean.
Eutrophication in a canal
The eutrophication of the Mono Lake which is a cyanobacteria-rich Soda lake.
Application of a phosphorus sorbent to a lake - The Netherlands

Anthropogenic or "cultural eutrophication" is often a much more rapid process in which nutrients are added to a water body from a wide variety of polluting inputs including untreated or partially treated sewage, industrial wastewater and fertilizer from farming practices.

The nitrate ion with the partial charges shown

Nitrate

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Polyatomic ion with the chemical formula.

Polyatomic ion with the chemical formula.

The nitrate ion with the partial charges shown
Canonical resonance structures for the nitrate ion
Sea surface nitrate from the World Ocean Atlas

Nitrates are used as fertilizers in agriculture because of their high solubility and biodegradability.

Fritz Haber, 1918

Haber process

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Artificial nitrogen fixation process and is the main industrial procedure for the production of ammonia today.

Artificial nitrogen fixation process and is the main industrial procedure for the production of ammonia today.

Fritz Haber, 1918
A historical (1921) high-pressure steel reactor for production of ammonia via the Haber process is displayed at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
First reactor at the Oppau plant in 1913
Profiles of the active components of heterogeneous catalysts; the top right figure shows the profile of a shell catalyst.
Modern ammonia reactor with heat exchanger modules: The cold gas mixture is preheated to reaction temperature in heat exchangers by the reaction heat and cools in turn the produced ammonia.
Energy diagram
Industrial fertilizer plant

The ammonia is used mainly as a nitrogen fertilizer as ammonia itself, in the form of ammonium nitrate, and as urea.

Reactor used in Rjukan from 1916 to 1940 having a capacity of 3000 kW (outside Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology).

Birkeland–Eyde process

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Reactor used in Rjukan from 1916 to 1940 having a capacity of 3000 kW (outside Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology).
Diagram of the production of a plasma disc using water-cooled electrodes and an electromagnet
One type of reactor used at Rjukan from 1912 to 1940 now located in a park in Rjukan.
Reactor Building II behind the Såheim Hydroelectric Power Station in which 35 Birkeland-Eyde reactors were installed requiring 3000 kW each

The Birkeland–Eyde process was one of the competing industrial processes in the beginning of nitrogen-based fertilizer production.