The three most important elements of fertilizer are NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium). NPK is also referred to as Primary or Macro Nutrients. Plants require NPK in great quantity and it forms part of the plant tissue.

In the market, one common formulation is 14-14-14 also referred to as Complete or Triple 14. This means that the fertilizer contains 14% Nitrogen, 14% Phosphorus and 14% Potassium. Aside from Triple 14, NPK comes in seven other formulations in the market. Here they are:

  • Urea – 46-0-0 or 46% Nitrogen only.
  • Ammosul or Ammonium Sulphate -21-0-0 or 21% Nitrogen only.
  • Ammonium Chloride – 25% Nitrogen only
  • Ammonium Phosphate – 16% Nitrogen and 20% Phosphorus.
  • Diammonium Phosphate – 18% Nitrogen and  46% Phosphorus.
  • Monoammonium Phosphate (MAP) – 12% Nitrogen and 60% Phosphorus.
  • Muriate of Potash (MOP) – 0% Nitrogen, 0% Phosphorus, 60% Potassium.
  • Sulphate of Potash (SOP) – 0% Nitrogen, 0% Phosphorus, 52% Potassium
  • Super Phosphate – 0 Nitrogen, 18% Phosphorus, 0 Potassium

GETTING TO KNOW THE TRADITIONAL NPK FERTILIZERSNITROGEN (N)- This is the element that plants need in the biggest quantity. 

It is an important part of amino acids needed in the protein-making process. 

It also plays a major part to make chlorophyll in plants where the leaves filter the sunlight to make food (photosynthesis). 

Nitrogen is needed to support the healthy growth of stems and leaves of plants. If the plant is nitrogen-deficient, growth will be hampered and the leaves become yellowish in color.

When the plants receive too much Nitrogen than needed, they become more attractive and susceptible to insect pests and diseases.

PHOSPHORUS (P) – Like Nitrogen, Phosphorus is also very important in the photosynthesis process. It mixes with Nitrogen to complete the food-making process in plants.

Phosphorus is required in the new cell formation and in the passing of genetic codes of plants from cell to cell.

This unfilled corn cob is the result of Nitrogen deficiency.

Phosphorus supports health growth of seeds, flowers, fruits and roots. If the plant is Phosphorus-deficient, growth is affected and leaves easily fall. Phosphorus also helps give natural resistance to plants.

POTASSIUM (K) – Potassium protects the plant by balancing the acids entering it. It is also an important element in the protein-making process (protein synthesis).

Potassium also helps regulate the entry of water and air in the plant through the stomata. Through this regulation, the right amount of water and air inside the plant is ensured to prevent wilting.

Potassium reduces respiration preventing loss of chemical energy in plants.

Potassium is also required in the over-all healthy growth of plants and to build natural resistance in plants. If potassium-deficient, growth is affected and leaves form closely to each other (improper spacing of leaf growth).

(Editor’s Note: The above information are contained in the booklet titled “Complete Plant Nutrition With Stress Management Technology” published by Zetryl Chem Philippines, the leading international chemical supplier, headed by Danton B. Pajarillaga. Email:

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