It’s the earth’s cultivated cropland that keeps humanity alive and thriving. Plants provide food, fiber, housing and a host of other benefits, and fertilizer plays a key role in this process. As the world population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, fertilizer will be needed more than ever to boost crop production to keep people fed and healthy.

All growing plants need 17 essential elements to grow to their full genetic potential. Of these 17, 14 are absorbed by plants through the soil, while the remaining three come from air and water.

Generations of soil science have yielded knowledge of how to test nutrient levels in soil, how plants take them up and how best to replace those nutrients after harvest. That’s where fertilizer comes in.

What do nitrogen phosphorus and potassium do for plants?


Nitrogen is an integral part of all proteins, and is one of the main chemical elements required for plant growth and photosynthesis.  In most agricultural conditions, availability of usable Nitrogen is the most limiting factor of high growth.  Your crop absorbs nitrogen by absorbing either ammonium or nitrate through it’s root system.  The plant will then utilize Nitrogen as a building block to produce protein in the form of enzymes.

Nitrogen is a mobile element, meaning that your alfalfa plants will relocate nitrogen from older tissue to younger tissue when deficiencies occur.  This is why older leaves on plants often show yellowing or other signs of nitrogen deficiency.

To ensure that your alfalfa, soybean, or corn crop is receiving the appropriate amount of nitrogen, look to combine your existing fertilizer regimen with biological soil amendments from Pro-Soil.  Pro-soil agricultural products are designed to help you avoid overuse of nitrogen-rich fertilizers by freeing up unused elements that are locked within your soil.  Remember, deficiencies often occur from overuse of fertilizers, which causes a nutrient lock-out in the soil.  To learn more about Pro-Soil agricultural products and how to utilize gradual input reduction techniques to increase crop yield, click here.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or NPK, are the “Big 3” primary nutrients in commercial fertilizers. Each of these fundamental nutrients plays a key role in plant nutrition.

Nitrogen is considered to be the most important nutrient, and plants absorb more nitrogen than any other element. Nitrogen is essential to in making sure plants are healthy as they develop and nutritious to eat after they’re harvested. That’s because nitrogen is essential in the formation of protein, and protein makes up much of the tissues of most living things. Below is a picture of corn that is nitrogen deficient.


The second of the Big 3, phosphorus, is linked to a plant’s ability to use and store energy, including the process of photosynthesis. It’s also needed to help plants grow and develop normally. Phosphorus in commercial fertilizers comes from phosphate rock. Below is a picture of corn that is phosphorus deficient.

Knowing how your alfalfa, soybean and corn fields use phosphorus is crucial for improving crop yields.

Phosphorus  is vital for strong growth. In sufficient phosphorus in the soil will cause stunted, spindly crops. Phosphorus, when combined with water, breaks in to separate ions that can be absorbed by the plant’s root system. The plant uses phosphorus for photosynthesis and energy/nutrient transport.

The right amount of phosphorus can help crops yield more fruits and create healthier stocks and root systems, they may also mature much quicker than plants without phosphorus. Insufficient supply can cause green & purple discoloration, wilting, small fruits and flowers (if at all). When phosphorus is added to the crops when sowed, it can establish a strong root base and produce strong all through the growth season.

Ensuring adequate phosphorus nutrition in your soybean, alfalfa, or corn crops is fundamental for increased crop yield. biological soil amendments from Pro-Soil can combine with your current fertilizer treatments easily.


Potassium is the third key nutrient of commercial fertilizers. It helps strengthen plants’ abilities to resist disease and plays an important role in increasing crop yields and overall quality. Potassium also protects the plant when the weather is cold or dry, strengthening its root system and preventing wilt. Below is a picture of corn that is potassium deficient.The Big 3—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—provide the foundational nutrients of today’s commercial fertilizers.

Potassium is in the soil naturally in two forms, one of the forms is able to be absorbed into the plant, while the other is unavailable to the plant. Many agricultural crops depend on abundant supply of potassium so they must rely on fertilizers and soil amendments to add to the potassium that’s in soil. Agricultural products that contain potassium are water soluable, allowing it to be absorbed by crops in through the nutrient rich soil.

Healthy plants use potassium in the cell system that uses water, the stomata. Potassium aids the plant in using water efficiently, preventing many diseases and heat damage. Potassium helps cycle nutrients through leaves, roots, and stems.

Ensure proper potassium nutrition in your soybean, alfalfa, or corn crops for increased crop yield with biological soil amendments from Pro-Soil.