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Phosphate

Definition

Phosphorus, in the form of phosphate (a salt of phosphoric acid) is mined from naturally occurring mineral deposits (phosphate rock) that were once sediments at the bottom of ancient seas.

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Rock phosphate is the raw material used in the manufacture of most commercial phosphate fertilizers.

Ground rock phosphate was ounce applied directly to acid soils.

Phosphate rock processing consists in the separation of phosphate from the mix of sand, clay and phosphate that makes up the matrix layer.

Phosphorus is one of the inorganic nutrients needed by all plants for the manufacture of phosphate containing nucleic acids, ATP and membrane lipids.

Soils that have been heavily used for agricultural crops are often deficient in phosphorus, as are acid sandy and granitic soils.

The manufacture of most commercial phosphate fertilizers begins with the production of phosphoric acid.

Phosphoric acid is produced by either a dry or wet process.

In the dry process, rock phosphate is treated in an electric furnace.

This treatment produces a very pure and more expensive phosphoric acid (frequently called white acid or furnace acid) used primarily in the food and chemical industry.

The cost of converting rock phosphate to the individual phosphate fertilizers varies with the process used.

More importantly, the processes used have no effect on the availability of Phosphorus to plants.

Fertilizers that use white phosphoric acid are generally more expensive because of the costly treatment process.

The wet process involves treatment of the rock phosphate with acid producing phosphoric acid (also called green acid or black acid) and gypsum which is removed as a by-product.

The impurities which give the acid its color have not been a problem in the production of dry fertilizers.

Either treatment process (wet or dry) produces orthophosphoric acid—the phosphate form that is taken up by plants.

There are many Phosphate-containing fertilizers to satisfy any application.

While organic Phosphate sources are closely associated with livestock operations or with proximity to major metropolitan areas, inorganic fertilizers are widely available for all

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