Fertilizers are soil amendments applied to promote plant growth, the main nutrients added in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients are added in smaller amounts. Collectively, the main nutrients vital to plants by weight are called macronutrients, including: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) (i.e. N- P-K). NPK ratings consist of three numbers separated by dashes (e.g., 10-10-10 or 16-4-8) describing the chemical content of fertilizers. The first number represents the percentage of nitrogen in the product; the second number, P2O5 the third, K2O. Fertilizers do not actually contain P2O5 or K2O, but the system is a conventional shorthand for the amount of the phosphorus (P) or potassium (K) in a fertilizer. A 50-pound (23 kg) bag of fertilizer labeled 16-4-8 contains 8 lb (3.6 kg) of nitrogen (16% of the 50 pounds), an amount of phosphorus equivalent to that in 2 pounds of P2O5 (4% of 50 pounds), and 4 pounds of K2O (8% of 50 pounds). Compound fertilizers are N-P-K fertilizers with other elements purposely intermixed.
Fertilizers are classified according to the content of these three elements. Labeling is according to relative amounts of each of the three elements by weight (i.e., mass fraction).
The development of the agriculture sector and improvement of the living standards of small-scale farmers are priorities of the Government of Malaysia. A higher level of agricultural production requires an increased and/or more efficient use of inputs, especially fertilizers. The main sources of imported urea were from Indonesia (54.5% valued at RM 286.1 million), China (21.0% valued at RM110.2 million). Urea export by Malaysia, has been trending upward since 2004 (RM492.0 million) to 2008 (RM 900.0 million). The major importing countries of Malaysian urea in 2008 were 8 Thailand (32.5%), Australia (26.8%), Japan (13.5%), India (14.0%) and the Philippines (6.0%). The global trade in NPKs grew from 13mn t in 2010 to16mn t in 2016.Russia has continued to increase export capacity, Moroccan NPK exports leapt from 74kt in 2013 to 840kt by 2016,Belarus NPK exports have also grown strongly from around 250kt in 2009/10 to 800kt in 2016.