Phosphate in fertilizers – Rapid and reliable determination by thermometric titration

Phosphorus is a primary macronutrient for plants and is a constituent of DNA and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is involved in many biological processes requiring energy. In fertilizers, phosphorus is present in the form of phosphate, as the most accessible form of phosphorus for plants is dihydrogen phosphate. Knowledge of the phosphorus content helps to select the right fertilizer for the plants.

Traditionally, phosphate is determined gravimetrically (a time consuming procedure) or spectrophotometrically (expensive instrumentation). In this Application Note, an alternative method is presented, where phosphate is determined by a precipitation titration with magnesium. Various solid and liquid NPK fertilizers with phosphorus contents between 6.5 and 17% were analyzed. The analysis by thermometric titration requires no sample preparation in case of liquid NPK fertilizers and only minimal sample preparation in case of solid NPK fertilizers. One determination takes about 5 minutes.