How Long Does Fertilizer Last in Soil?

The GardenSpring |

Fertilizers can remain in soil anywhere from three to seven days, or possibly up to several months. The exact length of time a fertilizer will remain in the soil.

It will depend on the type of fertilizer chosen and the formulation considerations of the fertilizer, as well as if it’s designed for a specific crop like tomatoes for example.

How Long Does Fertilizer Last in Soil?
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How Long Does Fertilizer Last in Soil?

When Is a Fertilizer Called Long-Lasting? It is considered that fertilizer can be qualified as long-lasting when, at a soil temperature of 25°C, it releases the following quantities of nutrients during a defined period:

  • at least 15% in 24 hours.
  • up to 75% in 28 days.
  • at least 75% for the duration of the activity mentioned.

Long-Lasting Organic Fertilizer

All organic fertilizers (industrial fertilizers, livestock effluents resp. farmyard manure) release nitrogen with a delayed effect. They are natural long-lasting fertilizers.

Microorganisms break down plant and animal proteins (mineralization) and convert organically bound nitrogen into ammonium and nitrate available to plants. This process stimulates soil activity and supports the release of other plant nutrients.

The speed of action depends on:

  • The biological activity of the soil resp. of the substrate
  • Ground temperature
  • The raw material (horn powder works faster than cattle manure)
  • Processing (hydrolyzed feather meal is more quickly processed than composted feathers)
  • Structure. The thinner a product, the greater the surface area in contact with soil microorganisms. For example, horn powder works better than horn scrapings, the powder mixture works faster than pellets, etc.
Waste garden nature fertilizer
Image by melGreenFR from Pixabay

Long-Lasting Mineral Fertilizer

The resin coating is a semi-permeable layer allowing water to penetrate the fertilizer granules. The heat enlarges the pores so nutrients are released as needed.

The fertilizer granules are wrapped in a layer of resin. This controls the release of nutrients.

Each pellet contains exactly the same nutrient composition.

The water entering it creates overpressure in the fertilizer granules. The nutrients released then reach the soil solution depending on the temperature of the soil.

All that remains is the empty resin coating composed of vegetable raw materials.


Fertilizer boosts the soil to better nourish the plants, but the plants sometimes need a little rest to start afresh when spring returns. What time of year is the best time to apply fertilizer according to the objective?


Fertilizers are usually spread on the soil by HANDS or MACHINES, or they are given to a line-shaped BAND or a quarry around the plant at certain distances from the seed or plant.

A. Spreading Fertilizer:

The fertilizer is either sprinkled on the soil surface before planting and buried with certain tillage tools and then planted, or the fertilizer that is sprinkled on the soil surface just before planting is mixed with the soil by plants.

In many cases, fertilizer is applied by scattering after planting. Not all of the fertilizer they need is given to some plants before or during planting at once.

Some of the fertilizer is given in planting and some is given in a certain growth period of the plant, thus making more use of fertilizer.

This second fertilization, which is made when there are plants in the field, can be done with the spreading method as well as with tools such as a fertilizer spreader.

The fertilizers given after the plant starts to grow are generally NITROGEN and especially NITRATE fertilizers. Phosphorus fertilizers should not be given as scattering after the plant has grown. Phosphorus fertilizers should be buried to the depth of the seed just before or during planting.

B. Band Fertilization:

Band fertilization is usually done with seeders, but in some cases, simple tools such as plows and even hoes are used.

Many studies, both in our country and in other countries, show that it is more beneficial to give fertilizers in bands.

When the fertilizer is applied to the band, the roots of the plant, which are not yet developed, easily benefit from this fertilizer next to the plant and grow faster.

The plant nutrient in the fertilizer given to the tape, especially phosphorus, maintains its usefulness to the plant for a longer period of time.

Phosphorus in the fertilizer given as sprinkled. On the other hand, combines with lime and other substances in the soil in a short time. Turns into a structure that the plant cannot use immediately or can hardly benefit from.

For this reason, the plant benefits more from the fertilizer given to the band. The plant can benefit from the fertilizer given to the band 15%-10% more than spreading.

2. Application Time of Fertilizers

Fertilizer application time to increase the effect of fertilizers on crop growth;

  • The climate of the region
  • To the character of the soil
  • It should be adjusted according to the type of plant to be fertilized and the type of fertilizer to be given.

The whole point is to provide the plant with the necessary nutrients when it needs them. For this reason, all of the fertilizer required to be given for certain plants grown in some regions is given at once and usually in planting.

While in some cases this amount is divided and given several times during various development periods of the plant. If fertilizers are applied too early or too late, the benefit to the plant is greatly reduced.

It is not possible to give a single time that everyone agrees on when to give fertilizer for various plants to be planted in various regions. However, it is useful to follow the general rules below regarding the time of fertilizer application.

Garden Fertilizer
Image by Jing from Pixabay

Time to Give Phosphorus Fertilizers

Phosphorus fertilizers should be given just before or during planting and must be buried in the soil. If it is given too early. it will turn into a form that the plant cannot benefit immediately in the soil. If it is given after the plant has grown. It will not be beneficial to the plant as it will remain above the soil.

In this case, all of the phosphorus fertilizer should be buried in the soil to the depth of the seeds IMMEDIATELY BEFORE or DURING SOWING in glasses and summer plantings.

Time to Give Potassium Fertilizers

Although there is usually enough potassium in our soils. There may be potassium deficiency in some areas. Potassium fertilizer should be given to the places where potassium deficiency is detected by having soil analyses done. This fertilizer, like phosphorus fertilizers, it should be given at planting and planting time.

Time to Give Nitrogen Fertilizers

Since nitrogen fertilizers are very mobile fertilizers in the soil. They are washed with excessive precipitation and irrigation water, or they may suffer losses by flying in a gaseous state.

In order to prevent such losses and to have this nutrient available in the soil when the plant needs it most. Sometimes all the nitrogen required for the plant should not be given at once in planting or planting but should be given by dividing it into several parts at various growth stages of the plant.

When it is decided to give the nitrogen fertilizer by dividing, it is very useful to give almost half of it in planting and planting. The remaining part of the fertilizer should be given during periods of rapid plant growth and before it is too late.

Which Kind of Nitrogen Fertilizer Should Use?

Generally, ammonium sulfate or urea fertilizers should be used in nitrogen fertilizer applications for autumn plantings, and ammonium nitrate fertilizers should be preferred for fertilization to be made in spring or summer.

However, since there is no big difference between nitrogen fertilizer types in terms of increasing the yield, if any nitrogen fertilizer is not available in the market, it would be appropriate to use another nitrogen fertilizer instead.


Fertilizer is an essential part of the growing process, but How Long Does Fertilizer Last in Soil? As long as the fertilizer is still in the bag, it should be good for a year. Once you open the bag and begin to apply it to your plants, you need to make sure that you only use it within a month.


Stanfield, S. (2021, September 27). How Long Does Fertilizer Last In Soil? Garden Tabs.,every%20seven%20to%20fourteen%20days.

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