A fertiliser is a natural or artificial substance containing chemical elements that improve growth and productiveness of plants by supplying nutrients necessary for plant growth and yield. Fertilisers have been used since the early days of agriculture, albeit in a less refined fashion than they are today.
It was discovered quickly that adding manure and other substances such as clay and ashes to the soil increased plant growth and yield, a technique that was demonstrated by the earliest European farmers. Organised research into the use of fertilisers began in the early seventeenth century and fertilisers were quickly developed as more chemicals that helped plant growth and yield were discovered and added to the compound in order to create newer and more effective fertilisers. Nowadays, the use of fertilisers is considered the norm in modern agriculture. Fertilisers are used commonly as the population of the planet increases rapidly, a greater food source is required and this can only be produced by providing a ‘helping hand’ to nature through the use of fertilisers. It can also increase the usability of land by supplementing the low natural nutrient level in some soils and increase the possibility of countries with poor conditions being able to grow plants effectively on the soil and develop a thriving agricultural industry.The elements provided by fertilisers are typically nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, although other elements can be used. When applied to the soil, fertilisers break down into these constituent components and are then absorbed through the root systems of plants as a form of nourishment.
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The adulteration of fertilizers involves the practice of adding extraneous material to a standard fertilizer to lower its quality. A fertilizer is said to be adulterated when (a) it contains harmful or deleterious ingredients or unwanted crop or weed seeds in quantities sufficient to harm the plant when applied according to the directions on the label, (b) its composition differs from that given on the label, and/or (c) useless materials like salt or sand are added to it. Mixing of this extraneous material degrades fertility of the land and may cause serious health issues for humans. Moreover, by applying such contaminated fertilisers, farmers are cheated and production suffers. Adulteration of fertilisers must be stopped as substandard agricultural input decreases yields and increases the cost of farming. According to a recent study conducted by Soil Research Development Institute (SRDI), nearly 40 percent of all fertilisers used by farmers are adulterated. Hence, the problem of adulterated fertilisers is extremely widespread.