Nutrients and Fertilizers

0 20 20 Fertilizer – Know Facts about Low Nitrogen Fertilizer

Plants that grow abundantly need soil as the source of nutrients along with adequate water. The soil fertility is the measure of the amount and rate of nutrient supplies. Due to the repetition or rotation of crops, the soil may deplete specific nutrients. Hence, when a farmer or a gardener has to add some fertilizers that are an additional source of nutrients, then they should go for 0-20-20 fertilizer or 10-20-20 fertilizer or similar fertilizers.

But, do you know what is 0-20-20 fertilizer, and what do these numbers indicate or signify? 

If you are a gardener or a farmer, then this is common, but here in this article, you will know some other essential things you need to know. You cannot just use any fertilizer to nourish your plants without understanding the soil fertility, water supply, and fertilizer requirement. 

There are many types and combinations of N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) nutrients available in fertilizers, which are needed by different plants and soil in various ratios and amounts. Among all the fertilizers, 0-20-20 is a rare and challenging fertilizer to the source. 

So let us understand what 0-20-20 is and why it is rare to find.

What is 0-20-20 Fertilizer?

What is 0-20-20 Fertilizer

A 0-20-20 fertilizer is a mixture that has no nitrogen. It is also known as zero nitrogen fertilizer or fertilizer without Nitrogen. The three numbers of 0-20-20 are called N-P-K numbers and indicate Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). So 0-20-20 means;

  • 0% Nitrogen – Nitrogen is one of the vital elements for some plants to maintain their green color and for the growth of their leaves. As many plants are naturally green, particularly the leaves, Nitrogen for these plants is not needed compared to phosphorus or potassium. This is when fertilizers like 0-20-20 or 10-20-20, are opted by gardeners or farmers.
  • 20% Phosphorus – It provides many benefits to the plants. This nutrient is a must for blooming as well as for the plant to grow. It protects the plant from diseases, keeping their roots healthy, and helping them to grow faster.
  • 20% Potassium – It is responsible for helping ion movement and metabolic processes in the plants. It helps in the overall functioning of plants and helps with root development and disease resistance also.

You will be wondering that these numbers don’t sum up to 100%, but it’s only 40%. The other 60% of the fertilizer is made up of filler material that contains other micronutrients necessary for the plants.

What is Low Nitrogen Fertilizer?Nitrogen Fertilizer

As we have seen above, a zero nitrogen fertilizer has zero nitrogen content; similarly, low nitrogen fertilizer has a lower digit in the first number. 5-20-20 or 6-24-24 would be an example of low nitrogen fertilizer. Adding bone meal or shellfish, which have relatively low nitrogen content, can be used as low nitrogen fertilizer. There is low nitrogen compost or mulch, which you can also use as low nitrogen fertilizer. 

Why Use a 0-20-20 Fertilizer?

Generally, fertilizers are used to increase the soil’s nutrient level, which has become deficient over time. But, if you are adding 0-20-20 fertilizer that is a fertilizer with no nitrogen, then you are only adding phosphorus and potassium to the soil. These types of fertilizers without Nitrogen are used for two common reasons- winterizing and fertilizing clover.

0-20-20 Fertilizer – Winterizing

Zero nitrogen fertilizers are often known as winterizing fertilizer also. These types of fertilizers are used in the fall months before winter. As there is less vegetative growth during winter, plants don’t need Nitrogen. Plants don’t consume a lot of Nitrogen while they are inactive in winter. Also, due to the process of leaching, snow and rain can easily wash away Nitrogen stored in the soil.

So it’s obvious why to waste money and resources by adding Nitrogen to the soil if it is going to get washed away through leaching and end up reaching in rivers and streams. Hence Nitrogen is generally undesirable to use during winters.

Fertilizing Clover for Wild Animal Food Plots

Using zero nitrogen fertilizer as fertilizing clover was started in 1988 by the Whitetail Institute of America. As the clover is full of nutrients and a good food source, it is loved by animals, and hence, many people use no nitrogen fertilizer as fertilizing clover to attract whitetail deer or turkeys.

Although there are many options available online for food plots, the idea to supplement the naturally available food for catching the animals is better as they get easily attracted to these areas and fall into the trap.

Okay, so now you know what 0-20-20 fertilizer is and why we need to use it, but do you know that this fertilizer is a challenging fertilizer to the source? You will hardly get it in big hardware stores, and sometimes it is hard to find even in stock at farm supply stores. So, now you will be thinking, why is it difficult to find?

It is because individual companies have come up with organic fertilizers with slow-release granular pieces that take a longer time to break down and thus release Nitrogen slowly in the soil. Organic fertilizers thus help consumers to save their time in fertilizing their soil too often.


Until now, you might have understood what the numbers indicate in the 0-20-20 fertilizer and that zero nitrogen fertilizer is mainly used for winterizing and as fertilizing clover. Even though organic, slow-release fertilizers have slowed down the availability of 0-20-20 fertilizer, its usage is valid, and many of you might require it based on their needs. If you want in small quantities, you can find it online, but if you need it in bulk, then you will need to mix it yourself before the fall fertilizing period starts. So go ahead and have it. 🙂

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