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Nitrophoska is the trade name of the mineral fertilizer known colloquially as blue grain. It was brought onto the market in 1927 by BASF as the first mineral complex fertilizer, also known as NPK fertilizer or colloquially complete fertilizer. The brand name originated from the first parts of the word of the three main nutrients - nitr (o) -ate, phosphate and potassium. Blue fertilizers are mainly used in agriculture and horticulture, but they are still very popular among hobby gardeners.
However, very few gardeners know that blue corn is not just blue corn, because there are different recipes. The so-called Nitrophoska perfect contains the most important plant nutrients in the ratio 15 + 5 + 20 + 2 + 8. This corresponds to 15 percent nitrate (nitrogen), 5 percent phosphate, 20 percent potassium, 2 percent magnesium and 8 percent sulfate (sulfur). In contrast, "Nitrophoska special" with the composition 12 + 12 + 17 + 2 + 8 has a significantly higher phosphate content.
There is also a blue fertilizer called Entec for professional users, which is also available for hobby gardeners in specialist gardeners under the name Blaukorn Novatec. The special feature of this product is the lower leaching of the nitrogen content, as this is not only contained in nitrate form, but also as ammonium. The latter is hardly shifted in the soil and nutrient surpluses therefore do not get into the groundwater as quickly. However, ammonium is very quickly converted into nitrate by bacteria in the soil. In order to slow down this process significantly, the Blaukorn Entec or Novatec contains a so-called nitrification inhibitor - it extends the conversion process to four to ten weeks depending on the weather and temperature. The nitrogen-stabilized blue grain variant is available in different compositions for agriculture, depending on the nutrient requirements of the plant species.
Another great advantage of the so-called blue grain is its high level of plant tolerance: especially salt-sensitive species can be supplied with blue fertilizers without any problems, because they all contain the nutrient potassium not in chloride form, but as a "more digestible" sulfate.
The ideal blue grain for the garden
Hobby gardeners should only use the blue corn Novatec, as it is simply more environmentally friendly than the variants with pure nitrate nitrogen. It has the composition 14 + 7 + 17 + 2 - the phosphate content is therefore greatly reduced, since this nutrient is usually in abundance in the garden soil anyway.
Use blue grain sparingly
Despite its positive properties, Blaukorn Novatec remains a mineral fertilizer - that is, it contains nitrogen compounds that are chemically produced from atmospheric nitrogen and therefore pollute the global nutrient cycle - with the well-known consequences such as groundwater pollution, algal blooms in the world's oceans and "overturned" inland waters. In addition, wild plants such as various orchid species, which are only competitive in nutrient-poor locations, are threatened by creeping nutrient inputs (eutrophication) in their populations.
Due to the problem mentioned, it is important to use mineral fertilizers in the garden responsibly. Whenever possible, use such fertilizers only if a plant is suffering from an acute nutritional deficiency that needs to be remedied quickly. The fact that they work quickly is one of the great advantages that mineral fertilizers have over organic fertilizers. Blaukorn does a good job of supplying nutrient-needing bulb flowers such as daffodils. The plants only have a very short vegetation period to produce enough reserve material for the new budding in the next year. Remounting perennials such as delphinium and steppe sage (photo above) also form new flowers more quickly if you fertilize the plants with a little blue grain immediately after cutting off the withered inflorescences in summer.
Analyze the soil first
Anyone who frequently uses mineral fertilizers such as blue corn in the garden should have their soil regularly checked for its nutrient content in the laboratory, because it is very easy to overfertilize it with the highly concentrated nutrient salts. With organic fertilizers such as horn shavings, however, the risk of over-fertilization is low, as the nutrients are not very highly concentrated and are also organically bound - that is, the complex molecules must first be broken down by microorganisms before the plants can absorb the nutrients they contain . A soil analysis is best done every two to three years in spring. If the nutrient content has hardly changed in the corresponding period, you can take a few more years with the next soil analysis.
Blue grain as a liquid fertilizer
Since blue corn is water-soluble, many hobby gardeners like to use it as an inexpensive liquid fertilizer - for example, as food for potted plants that require nutrients such as angel's trumpets. But here it is important that you slowly approach the optimal concentration, because over-fertilization can cause the plants to die. If the salt concentration in the soil is too high, what is known as reverse osmosis occurs - the water diffuses from the root hairs back into the soil and the plant dries up because it can no longer absorb water. The only thing that helps here is to thoroughly water the root ball in order to wash out the excess nutrient salts as quickly as possible. In case of doubt, it is better to use a ready-mixed mineral liquid fertilizer and dose it according to the instructions on the package.
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