What are the Pros and Cons of Ammonium Sulphate Fertilizer?

Paul Scott

Ammonium sulphate fertilizer is a widely used, inorganic soil supplement that has particular benefits when applied to alkaline soils. The active ingredients in it are nitrogen and sulfur. Correct use of this fertilizer maintains healthy nitrogen levels in the soil and, in the case of alkaline soils, helps to maintain a good pH balance. When used in excess, however, it can cause a range of undesirable plant conditions, such as excessive leaf growth, weak plant bodies, and excessive thatch in lawns. Several countries have also instituted a ban on this form of fertilizer due to its use as an explosives component by terrorist groups.

Ammonium sulphate can enrich the nitrogen level of soil, however it should not be used near a stream that enters the water supply.
Ammonium sulphate can enrich the nitrogen level of soil, however it should not be used near a stream that enters the water supply.

Inorganic fertilizers are among the most commonly used soil supplements in agriculture and gardening, and they have become essential aids in both areas for maintaining healthy soil and vibrant plant growth. Ammonium sulphate fertilizer not only adds general value to the soil via its nitrogen content, but also addresses pH issues in alkaline soils. An inorganic salt, ammonium sulphate is produced by either combining ammonia with sulfuric acid or gypsum and calcium carbonate. The result is an odorless, white powder with average nitrogen and sulphate concentrations of 21% and 24% respectively. When exposed to water in the soil, the fertilizer releases nitrogen essential for healthy plant growth and acid forming ammonium ions, which address excess alkalinity.

Excessive ammonium sulphate use can render a plant susceptible to disease or make land too acidic for use.
Excessive ammonium sulphate use can render a plant susceptible to disease or make land too acidic for use.

Although nitrogen is an essential constituent in promoting a vibrant and healthy plants, too much can damage plants by overstimulating leaf growth, leaving the rest of the plant weakened and prone to disease, damage, and pest predation. Unwarranted use of this fertilizer in soils with a balanced pH may also kill plants due to spikes in soil acidity. It should also be used with caution in applications where adjacent bodies of water are exposed to runoff from crops and gardens because contamination leads to vigorous algae growth.

Overuse of ammonium sulphate fertilizer can lead to excessive thatch.
Overuse of ammonium sulphate fertilizer can lead to excessive thatch.

Notwithstanding the many benefits of ammonium sulphate fertilizer, countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan have instituted a ban on it due to its use, or rather abuse, as an explosives component. This is not, however, an indication of any potential risks where the fertilizer is used or stored as intended. It is safe, even in extremely humid environments, and is highly beneficial if correctly applied.

Proper use of ammonium sulphate fertilizer can ensure healthy plant growth.
Proper use of ammonium sulphate fertilizer can ensure healthy plant growth.

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Discussion Comments

anon1003437

I recently applied ammonium sulphate to my orange plants and their leaves all turned brown. Can you please advise on what I can do to save them?

anon952648

I wish to use ammonia sulphate in a liquid for and spray on my pasture with horses in the paddock. Is this advisable and if not, why not?

anon324079

I have recently purchased ammonium sulphate which is light-brown in color. This is puzzling since ammonium sulphate is a white crystalline compound.

Any explanation for this?

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