What is NPK Fertilizer and How to Use it?

There was a time when people would shun away from adding anything to their crops, of fear that their crops would damage themselves and the produce. Fertilizers have come a long way since then and have become an important catalyst to boost the growth of plants and to also safeguard them from various infections and diseases.

Today there are thousands of fertilizers in the market, each with its own supply of surplus nutrients. However, none of them compare to NPK fertilizer as it adds the most important minerals to the soil: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium

Apart from NPK, plants also require secondary elements in small quantity: calcium, sulfur, and magnesium.

In this article by Elitech Drip, we’re going to take a look at what makes NPK fertilizers one of the most preferred fertilizers among farmers. But before we do that, let’s take a look at why fertilizers matter. Watch the video below to learn what kind of NPK is available in India:

Why Fertilizers?

Farmers on a large scale have started to use fertilizers daily because of their enormous range of benefits. Nearly every garden today – from small home gardens to large agricultural farms – have started to adopt the use of fertilizers to enhance their yield.

And rightly so. As the population of the world keeps increasing there must be sufficient food to provide for these hungry stomachs. Crops provide this much needed nourishment. But the fact of the matter is that the yield produced by regular farming, without addition of fertilizers, can only feed a few people. To meet the requirements of the whole population, we need greater yield, with better quality.

Not all crops can be grown everywhere, owing to the variations in soil, climate change, and a host of other factors. However, despite the land and weather differences, people can plant different types of vegetables and fruits owing to fertilizers.

Not just this, but they can also increase micronutrients in the crops. This comes in handy because different people have different nutrient requirements – for example, infants need zinc as they are an important source for their growth. With a number of macronutrient fertilizers, all of this is made possible.

Effect of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium on Plants

The NPK values are mentioned on all types of fertilizers, be it organic or chemical. For a plant to grow in optimal states, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are needed. These three components are absolutely essential to the growth of your plants, and therefore, fertilizer manufacturers focus majorly on these three components. Let’s take a look at how these three components are beneficial to your plants.


Nitrogen is an important element of plants as they are used to govern the process of photosynthesis, through which they convert sunlight into sugar, water and carbon dioxide.

They are also responsible for amino acids – which form the basic building blocks of many different kinds of proteins. Nitrogen goes through a series of transitions to provide these proteins to the plants. There are also many organisms present inside the soil which can slow the growth of the plant or even eat up the soil.

Nitrogen-rich compounds make sure this isn’t possible, by immobilizing them further boosting the plant’s growth. Once these organisms are not able to feed on the plant anymore, they die and get decomposed into the soil as inorganic matter.

One small problem still remains, however. In the soil, there is only a very small amount of nitrogen present. And when you grow a lot of plants in your garden, the soil has no other choice but to distribute this nitrogen to all of the plants, thus resulting in a lack of available Nitrogen.

This can be a problem because not all plants tend to form nitrogen in the soil. Luckily, fertilizers come in handy here. They save a lot of time that may otherwise be spent on waiting for the plants to recover the lost nitrogen.


Phosphorus is an important component in plants not only because it acts as an energy unit and a catalyst for many of the plant’s reactions with the soil, but mainly to convert the sunlight into a useful resource to the plant.

It also behaves as a memory unit for all living creatures. The DNA characteristic of the plants is enhanced for them to build up proteins and seed yield and another genetic transfer.

Phosphorus also helps in fixing the legumes of nitrogen and quality of the crops. It also increases the stalk and stem strength. Many plant diseases can also be averted, because of the resistance that Potassium offers.

If a plant lacks phosphorus there might not be symptoms of it as clear as nitrogen deficiency. There may appear minor signs of discoloration on the plants but by the time you recognize them, it would be too late. That is why it’s really important that you add fertilizers regularly to your plants. Phosphorus is one of the few components that last for a plant’s entire lifecycle.


Potassium plays a vital role in regulating the carbon dioxide intake and also for closing and opening of the stomata (these are tiny pores that allow the plant to breathe).

The Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is a factor of energy source which processes all of the chemical processes in the pants. The ATP and other enzymes are all activated by the potassium component.

The regulation of water levels in the plant is also controlled by potassium. Potassium can even make plants drought resistant. It is definitely a quality nutrient for the plants.

Effect of NPK on Plant

What is NPK Fertilizer Ratio

There’s a surefire chance that you may have seen a six-digit number somewhere on the carton of the fertilizer. Most people, when new to gardening, overlook this number, and in turn pay the price. When you are shopping for fertilizers you are provided with innumerable options and it’s natural that you have no idea which ones to buy, what these numbers are and what they mean. You are just given a three-number series like 10-10-10 or even 20-20-20.

These numbers actually denote something known as the NPK values of a fertilizer (we’ll get to what NPK is in a bit), and the values mentioned in the number pattern are what determine how powerful a fertilizer is, and whether it would be good for your crops or not.

NPK is really an abbreviation for the major components present in a fertilizer. The N stands for Nitrogen, P stands for Phosphorus and K for Potassium. The numbers denote the macronutrient level or ratio that each element contains – for instance, a fertilizer listed as a 10-5-5 would mean that the nitrogen is twice that of phosphorus and potassium.

These numbers can also be used to calculate how much fertilizer needs to be added to the soil in which you are about to grow your crops. To understand it better, let’s say you have a fertilizer numbered 10-10-10. Divide this 10 by 100, and you have the amount of fertilizer you need to add to your soil to add 1 pound of nutrient. So, you need to add 10 pound of fertilizer of 10-10-10 fertilizer to add 1 pound of phosphorus, 1 pound of nitrogen, and 1 pound of Potassium to the soil. 1 pound = 456 grams

In another case, if you have a fertilizer of 20-20-20 then you will have to divide 20 by 100, and mix 5 pounds of fertilizer with the soil to increase the macronutrient level by 1 pound