Sulfate in fertilizers – Rapid and reliable determination by thermometric titration

Sulfur is a secondary macronutrient for plants and is essential for chloroplast growth and function. In fertilizers, sulfur is usually provided in the form of sulfate. Traditionally the sulfate content is determined gravimetrically by precipitation with barium. The drawback of this method is that it requires numerous time consuming and laborious analysis steps.

In this Application Note, an alternative method is presented, where sulfate is determined by a precipitation titration with barium chloride. Various solid and liquid NPK fertilizers with sulfur contents between 1 and 8% were analyzed. The analysis of sulfate in fertilizers by thermometric titration requires no sample preparation at all for liquid NPK fertilizers, and only minimal sample preparation for solid NPK fertilizers. One determination takes about 3 minutes only. To increase the sensitivity of the method, the samples are spiked with a standard sulfuric acid solution, which is then considered when calculating the result.