We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Compound Fertilizer?

By Dana DeCecco
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A compound fertilizer contains two or more essential plant nutrients and can include secondary nutrients and trace elements. The compound might be organic or inorganic. Organic compounds might include manure, fish and bone meal as well as compost. Inorganic fertilizers combine various chemicals in the manufacturing process. Combinations for different crops and growing conditions are produced.

The essential plant nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These elements are required for plants to complete their life cycle. Secondary nutrients are calcium, sulfur and magnesium. These nutrients are normally present in the soil but need to be replenished periodically. Trace elements might be added, such as boron, copper and cobalt. Compound fertilizers are used around the world with several variations.

Different countries define a compound fertilizer in diverse ways. They are all similar in the respect that two or more essential nutrients are required. Although organic fertilizers are widely used, it has been estimated that inorganic fertilizers are responsible for feeding a very large percentage of people on Earth. A combination of organic and chemical fertilizers are typically used with each having certain advantages and disadvantages.

Compound fertilizer is available in liquid or granular form, and some granular fertilizer is in a slow-release formula. A numbering system is used to define the percentages of the three essential plant nutrients. For example, a 20-20-10 fertilizer would contain 20 percent nitrogen, 20 percent phosphorus and 10 percent potassium. Secondary nutrients and trace elements are typically listed.

Single-nutrient fertilizers are available, but the convenience of a compound fertilizer provides the addition of several nutrients and ease of use in the field. A uniform distribution is possible because each granule contains all of the nutrients and minerals in the formula. Blended fertilizers might not provide an even distribution of ingredients and might be more costly.

Variations of compound fertilizers are used for nearly all crops. Complex fertilizers, which are produced through chemical interaction, are used primarily for industrial crops such as cotton and sugar beets. These complex fertilizers are a type of compound fertilizer with a chemical reaction being required to complete the production process.

Commercially available compounds are typically free-flowing, allowing a uniform dispersion. They are chemically uniform and safe to use. Controlled-release elements are used to avoid burning vegetation. Some products contain herbicides for a controlled feed and weed application.

Many production methods are being used to manufacture these fertilizers. Compound fertilizers are available from home improvement stores. Landscaping and agricultural supply stores also carry a full line of compound fertilizer products. Homeowners often find compound products convenient, reliable and economic.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Sultank — On Oct 30, 2014

Before I buy any type of fertilizer for my garden, I do a soil test. This way I know what the soil is lacking and can buy the fertilizer that contains the minerals and trace elements the soil needs.

Testing the soil first also makes it easier to choose the best NPK fertilizer, even if trace minerals aren't needed. I usually buy a soil test, gather samples, and send them to my local Cooperative Extension office.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.