The numbers indicate the amounts or percentages of nitrogen, phosphate and potash in the fertilizer. These three nutrients are needed in relatively large quantities by most plants. The first number refers to the amount of nitrogen, the second refers to the amount of phosphate, and the third refers to the amount of potash. For example, a 10-6-4 contains 10 percent nitrogen, 6 percent phosphate and 4 percent potash.

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