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Natural fertilizer

Term for the natural, organic substances (in contrast to the second large group of artificially produced, mineral substances) used in fertilization; see there.

Term for the practice in agriculture of compensating for a deficiency in the soil by adding nutrients of both a mineral and organic nature. The name is derived from "manure" (excrement of herbivores, especially ungulates). This oldest form of fertilizer was used six millennia ago. Specific fertilization began in the 18th century with wood ash, lime and marl. Around 1840, the German chemist Justus Liebig (1803-1873) demonstrated the growth-promoting effect of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. He wrote in his haptwerk "Organic Chemistry in its Application to Agriculture and Physiology": The soil must regain in full what is taken from it by harvests.

These principles, of course, apply to viticulture as well. During the annual vegetative cycle in the vineyard, large amounts of nutrients are removed from the soil. Losses occur through leaching (on light soils especially of boron, potassium and magnesium), erosion (soil erosion especially on slopes), gaseous loss (especially nitrogen) and fixation (binding of nutrients in forms not available to plants), as well as through grape harvesting. A vine with about 200 leaves produces about half a kilo of dry matter, i.e. shoots, leaves and grapes, in the annual vegetative cycle. Within the EU, there are legally defined fertilizer regulations for agriculturally used areas.

In contrast to other plants, the vine is less demanding on soil fertility. It is a phenomenon that there are many famous vineyards with top wines, which often have a relatively lean soil. A certain nutrient stress can even have a very positive effect. However, this does not mean that with increasing barrenness of the soil, the wine quality automatically increases. Too little (deficiency) is just as negative as too much (overfertilization). The required fertilization measures must usually be checked every five to six years by soil tests. This usually involves determining the stocks of boron, potassium, calcium (lime),...

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