Fertilizer Recommendations For Tomato Plant And Method Of Application

The tomato plant is one of the plants of high economic importance. The reward of tomato cultivation is a high yield, which is usually achieved by abiding by the right fertilizer recommendations for tomato plant; this is very important as it shows the degree of profitability of the cultivation.

Two farmers can plant tomato on the same piece of land but they would surely not get the same result; one would surely harvest more than the other would; this is a function of the fertilization and other management practices.

Fertilization of the tomato plant is very important to the yield of the crop. What fertilizer does to the crop is to enable produce to its genetic potential when other factors such as pest and diseases, climatic factors are favorable.

Irrespective of your system of cultivation, either organic or inorganic, you must follow the fertilizer recommendations for tomato plant to achieve a desirable yield and huge profit in return.

In this article, I would discuss extensively on the fertilizer recommendations for the tomato plant for both the determinate and indeterminate growth habit in the organic and inorganic farming system. In addition, the types of fertilizers you can apply on your tomato farm.

So, if you are an organic or inorganic tomato farmer, this article would give you insights towards the recommended application rate of different fertilizers on a tomato farm.

Fertilizer Requirement Of Tomato Plant

Fertilizers, either manure or synthetic fertilizers, play a remarkable role in the yield and returns on investment of tomato cultivation. The nutrients required by tomato are divided into micronutrients and macronutrients.

The macronutrients are the most important nutrients required by fertilizers, they are usually required in large quantity. They are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.

The micronutrients are nutrient elements required in small quantities, they are very essential to the growth and development of tomato plants. They are Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Boron, Copper, Zinc, Sulphur, Molybdenum, and Chlorine.

These nutrient elements are present in the soil in varying concentration and are usually supplement in case of deficiency symptoms, especially calcium and magnesium.

The table below shows the ideal fertilizer recommendation for tomato cultivation on one hectare of land.

Nutrient elementQuantity (kg/ha)
Nitrogen200
Phosphorus80
Potassium350
Magnesium60
Calcium300
Source: Starke Ayres Tomato Production Guideline

These fertilizers are needed across the three stages of growth of the tomato plant. These stages are:

  • Vegetative stage: This is the early stage of tomato growth; it is usually between 0-6 weeks. This stage requires a high level of Nitrogen compared to other nutrients; it is needed for the rapid and development of the plant tissues.
  • Flowering stage: This is the stage where the tomato flowers emerge; it is usually between 6-12 weeks. The flowering state requires a high amount of potassium to aid turgidity and hasten to fruit.
  • Fruiting stage: The fruiting stage is marked by the emergence of tomato fruits; it is usually between 12-20 weeks. This stage requires a high amount of calcium and magnesium; this aids fruiting and prevents the occurrence of a common tomato fruit disease called blossom rot.

Care must be taken when applying fertilizer because excess fertilizers in the soil may lead to poor growth and fruiting.

Fertilizer Schedule For Indeterminate Tomato Plant

The table below shows the amount of fertilizer you need to apply across the three stages of the tomato plant.

Age (Weeks)Nitrogen (kg/ha)Phosphorus (kg/ha)Potassium (kg/ha)Calcium   (kg/ha)Magnesium   (kg/ha)
0-7   (Vegetative stage)35186053
7-12   (Flowering stage)70181107015
12-23   (Fruiting stage)144332288010
Source: Starke Ayres Tomato Production Guideline

Fertilizer Schedule For Determinate Tomato Plant

The table below shows the amount of fertilizer you need to apply across the three stages of the tomato plant.

Age (Weeks)Nitrogen (kg/ha)Phosphorus (kg/ha)Potassium (kg/ha)Calcium   (kg/ha)Magnesium   (kg/ha)
0-7   (Vegetative stage)451865108 
7-12   (Flowering stage)55181007013 
12-23   (Fruiting stage)7012120553 
Source: Starke Ayres Tomato Production Guideline

Recommended Fertilizers For Tomato Plants

Now we have the nutritional requirements for the tomato plants; we still need to dwell more on the suppliers of these nutrients, called fertilizers.

Fertilizers are the suppliers or better-said carriers of nutrients for plant use. There are two types of fertilizers for tomato plant use, organic fertilizers, and inorganic or synthetic fertilizers

Organic Fertilizers Recommended For Tomato Plants

Farmyard manure, poultry manure, and compost manure are the main types of fertilizers that can be used for tomato cultivation.

Farmyard manures are waste materials gotten from farm animals, such as cattle, horse, pigs, and rabbit; it includes their bedding materials, feaces, and urine. They contain an appreciable amount of nutrients elements needed for tomato plant growth. 20 tons of farmyard manure is required to plant one hectare of the tomato plant.

Check: Check Out The Characteristics Of Poultry, Cattle, Rabbit, And Other Manures

Poultry manure is about 3-4 times as effective as farmyard manures; this is because it is the combination of the feacal waste and urine, also poultry birds are usually fed with highly nutritious feeds, hence, their waste is usually rich in essential nutrients.

About 20 – 25 tons of poultry manure is required to plant one hectare of a tomato plant. It is the best fertilizer for tomatoes and peppers. It is best applied by mixing the manure with soil and applied through band placement, which is applying between a small opening made between the rows of the plants.

Compost manure is also a rich source of natural fertilizer; it is usually gotten from household or municipal waste from the environment. They are usually very dark in color and best applied as top dressing at the root zone of the plant; it can serve as homemade tomato fertilizer About 15 – 20 tons of compost is required to plant one hectare of tomato.

Check: Learn How To Make Compost Manure Within 4 Days

Inorganic Fertilizers Recommended For Tomato Plants

Inorganic fertilizers are the synthetic compounds characterized by their ability to supply one or more plant nutrients. They are usually used as supplements during the cultivation of the tomato plant. Inorganic fertilizers are divided into two, compound and single fertilizers.

The compound fertilizers are those types of fertilizers that can supply more than one nutrient. Examples are NPK 15:15:15, NPK 10:10:10, NPK 20:20:20; they supply the basic nutrients needed by the tomato plant.

The single fertilizers are those types of fertilizers that supply just one nutrient; they are usually used to correct a deficiency of a particular nutrient.

Examples of nitrogen fertilizer supplement for tomato are:

  • Urea: 46% Nitrogen
  • Ammonium nitrate: 33% Nitrogen
  • Calcium nitrate: 15% Nitrogen
  • Sodium nitrate: 15% Nitrogen

Examples of phosphorus fertilizer supplements

  • Monoammonium phosphate: 48% phosphorus
  • Diammonium phosphate: 53% phosphorus

Examples of potassium fertilizer supplements

  • Murate of potash: 60% potassium
  • Sulfate of potash: 48% potassium
  • Potassium nitrate: 44% potassium

Care must be taken when using these inorganic fertilizers; they are hygroscopic in nature hence, they tend to absorb water from the plant when they have direct contact with it. It is recommended you irrigate the field after applying these fertilizers.

Soil Nutrient Requirement For Planting Tomato

The soil is an ideal entity that contains a balanced nutrient profile required to give any plant good growth, however, this nutrient profile is often depleted as a result of constant cultivation and other activities of man on the soil, hence, the need to supplement fertilizers in a tomato farm is very crucial.

Prior to the cultivation of tomato, especially for commercial purposes, it is recommended you test your soil to ascertain the suitability of the soil parameters to the requirement of the tomato plant. Most important of all the tests are soil ph and nutrient composition of the soil.

Check: 3 Ways To Test Your Soil Ph Without Going To Laboratory

These two parameters directly or indirectly affect the availability of nutrient in the soil. Let us start with soil ph.

The ideal soil ph requirement for tomato cultivation is ph range between 6 to 6.8; this means the soil has to be slightly acidic to neutral. When the soil is too acidic or alkaline, essential nutrient elements, mostly Phosphorus, Calcium, and Magnesium may become insoluble, thus, making them unavailable for plant use; also, Nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil find the condition unbearable for their survival. Such a condition makes the soil infertile and unfit for tomato cultivation.

Check: Effects Of Soil Acidity And Alkalinity On Crop Yield

The soil for planting tomato must naturally contain the following nutrient elements in the listed quantity:

Nutrient elementQuantity (mg/kg)
Nitrogen10-50
Phosphorus60
Potassium100-250
Calcium300 -2000
Magnesium120- 300
Source: Starke Ayres Tomato Production Guideline

This is the ideal soil nutrient requirement for the tomato plant. However, fertilizer supplementation of tomato plants may be needed if the soil or plant shows deficiency symptoms in the later stage of the cultivation.

How To Apply Fertilizer To Tomato Plant

The application of fertilizer to tomato plants can be done in several ways. The goal is to allow the plant to utilize the nutrient content in the fertilizer for their growth.

There are different methods of fertilizer application; the choice of the method is dependent on the system used in planting the tomato, size of the tomato farm, quantity of the fertilizer to be applied, age of the tomato plant, type of fertilizer among other factors to be considered before fertilizing tomato plant.

Irrespective of the system used in planting, fertilizer can be applied to tomato plants using any of these methods:

#1. Side dressing

Applying fertilizer using the side-dressing method is one of the traditional ways of applying fertilizers. This method is best used for applying bulky fertilizers like compost or farmyard manure.

In the side-dressing method, the fertilizer is applied to the tomato plant inform of mulch. The fertilizer is used to cover the root zone of the tomato plant. Most fertilizers applied using the side-dressing method also serve as soil conditioners; they help to perfect the soil structure and enhance the texture for a better medium of exchange of materials.

Not all recommended tomato fertilizers can be applied using the side dressing method; it is not advisable to apply hygroscopic fertilizers like the NPK by side dressing. This is because the nutrient compounds in the fertilizer are volatile and can be lost to the atmosphere.  Examples of fertilizer that can be applied to tomato plants using side-dressing are; compost, green manure, vermicompost manure, cow dung, poultry manure etc.

#2 . Placement

Placement simply means applying fertilizer in a localized spot or portion of the soil and not directly to the plant. Placement is in two forms, band placement, and side placement; these methods or forms of applying fertilizers using placement are derived by the location of the fertilizer in the soil.

Applying fertilizer to tomato plants using the placement method simply means placing the fertilizers near or between the tomato plants. The fertilizers are usually placed in a dug channel or hole within the inter-row or Intra-row spacing between the plants. This allows two tomato plants to utilize the fertilizer.

There is a clear difference between side dressing and placement. In side-dressing, the fertilizer is applied above the soil, on the soil surface while in placement, the fertilizer is applied below the soil surface, meaning it is buried. All types of recommended fertilizers for tomato plants can be applied using side placement or band placement.

#3. Foliar application

One of the methods of applying fertilizer to tomato plants in an intensive system of planting like the greenhouse or nursery is the foliar application. In this method, the fertilizer solution or liquid fertilizer is applied to the leaves; such a tomato plant absorbs the fertilizer through the opening such as stomata and the lenticels of the tomato plant. One of the benefits of using the foliar application for tomato plants is to facilitate pollination, especially in greenhouse cultivation.

#4. Fertigation

In commercial tomato farms, fertigation is usually the most recommended method of fertilizer application. Fertigation involves the application of fertilizers to tomato plants through the irrigation water directly to the plant’s root zone where the fertilizer is used up. Fertilizers applied through this method are maximally utilized by the individual plants.

With strict adherence to the fertilizer recommendations for tomato plant and its application rate and other managerial practices such as weeding, tomato plant can perform optimally.

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9 Comments

  1. MARK ANSONG - June 9, 2019 Reply

    THANK YOU

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  7. jose kweku nkornu - February 13, 2021 Reply

    i have a difficulty understanding this issues. i have a tomato farm of 3,000 plants. now i want to know how many grams of fertilizer per liter of water does one tomato plants needs. because i want to use the fertigation system.
    then at each of the 3 stages how many times and at what intervals do i have to apply the fertilizer.
    and also do i have to combine all the different fertilizers together before application?
    can you please address this situation for me
    thanks

  8. Oloyede - July 16, 2021 Reply

    Thumbs up to you. Thanks for this piece of information. But I have an issue. Can you please tell me the nutrient requirements at each stage of production for tomatoes planted in 20 litres bucket?
    Thanks.

  9. Ugwu Chiedozie Moses - October 16, 2021 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your heart experience with me, on the success of tomatoes production

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