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ammonia from fertilizer pellets

> From: ChazzHess at aol_com
> Subject: Re: Osmocote

> I would probably use a fertilizer that didn't
> utilize ammonium as its major nitrogen source.

If you are concerned about the amount of ammonia liberated from the 
fertilizer in the substrate, it won't matter whether the nitrogen is in 
nitrate or ammonia form since bacterial action in the substrate will 
convert nitrates to ammonia. Since ammonia is a preferable nitrogen form 
for plants, ammonium nitrate is probably a good choice especially if those 
fertilizer pellets are mixed into little clay balls to slow the diffusion 
rate. Also the clay will not have carbon (ie organic material) which is 
necessary for de-nitrifying bacteria. In other words, putting the pellets 
in clay will help prevent nitrogen loss through de-nitrification 
(conversion to nitrogen gas). It would also be a good idea to mix a small 
amount of micronized iron with the clay (in proportion to the amount of any 
sulfate) so that any sulfides released could be converted to FeS and not 
H2S or various other harmful sulfides like mercaptan (thiol) which is the 
natural gas smell. 

BTW, for anyone interested in the various smells from your substrate, the 
natural gas smell (mercaptan) is from molecules of the form X-SH where X is 
any alkyl like ethyl or methyl. These are common byproducts of low redox 
decomposition (anoxic with plenty of labile organic material) which are 
produced when H2S is produced so the natural gas smell is a good indicator 
of a bad substrate. Mercaptan is a produced along with H2S. Other smells 
which you can relate this to are the smell of a burnt sulfer match, rotten 
egg or (stretching) the skunk smell. Not sure what's in skunk scent but 
maybe someone can let me know offline.