Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizer: Which is better? – read and decide
It’s not easy to give a definite answer to the question whether natural fertilizers are better than chemical ones. However, if you could have an opportunity to ask your own plants this question, most probably they would be puzzled too. It’s because both types of fertilizers have nutrients and plants don’t need anything else.
Nevertheless, there’re considerable differences between organic fertilizers and their chemical counterparts in terms of nutrient availability as well as the long-term effects on plants, soil, and the environment. To make this difficult choice, you require viewing this review. Here we’ve considered both pros and cons of different fertilizers.
To start with, the terminology here below can be somewhat confusing because the theme involves a rich diversity of fertilizers, including chemical, organic, natural, artificial, manufactured, synthetic and inorganic. However, the good news is that your choice can be reduced to just chemical and organic fertilizers.
Organic Fertilizer: Advantages and Disadvantages
In this case, the terms “natural” or “organic” simply mean that the fertilizer is just minimally processed, and its nutrients are still bound up in their natural forms. On the contrary, in chemical fertilizers nutrients are extracted and then refined. When people hear “organic” they usually refer it to how food is processed, but it’s not this case.
Organic fertilizers are normally made from animal or plant waste. However, powdered minerals are often utilized too. Typical examples include compost and manure, and also bones as well as cottonseed meal. This stuff is usually offered as “soil conditioners” without stressing that these fertilizers. The matter is that it’s not easy to 100% guarantee their nutrient ratio. Specialized factories are the places where organic fertilizers are often processed. On the other hand, farmers are also capable of doing this using compost and manure.
There’s also an extending choice of more highly processed solutions, with labeled analysis of nutrients as well as contents. For instance, Scotts Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Plant Food happens to be a manufactured fertilizer made of chicken litter and also ground up feathers. Its N-P-K ratio amounts to 7-1-2. On the contrary, Garden Safe Organic Plant Food consists of poultry manure, and it’s claimed to be on a par with chemical fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers have the following pros:
- Apart from releasing a slew of nutrients, when breaking down, organic fertilizers improve the overall structure of the soil and also enhance its ability to hold nutrients and water. Over time, they can make your plants and soil strong and healthy.
- Being slow-release products, they can hardly over-fertilize, thus harming your plants.
- There’s minor or even no risk of toxic buildups of salts and other chemicals can be dangerous to plants.
- Organic fertilizers are biodegradable, renewable, sustainable as well as environmentally friendly.
- It’s possible for you to make your own organic fertilizer by simply composting or finding inexpensive sources, including local dairy farms, which might sell you their composted manure.
On the other hand, organic fertilizers also have their own downsides. Let’s mention them:
- Microorganisms are urgently required for breaking down and releasing nutrients into the soil. As they require moisture and warmth to do their job, the overall effectiveness of organic fertilizers is quite limited seasonally. However, these microorganisms get energy from decaying animal and plant matter, therefore an application of organic fertilizers provides a full package of nutrients for the soil.
- Organic fertilizers tend to break down in a natural way. Therefore, they can’t release nutrients exactly when you require them. So, in this case, you require patience, as you can’t count on a fantastic result in one day. In fact, you might observe a deficiency in your plants for the first couple of months until the organic fertilizer applied finally breaks down. Once it happens you’ll undoubtedly benefit!
- As a rule, nutrient ratios are unknown in these fertilizers, and the overall percentage is lower than in their chemical counterparts. Nevertheless, some organic solutions are higher in some nutrients.
How are chemical fertilizers made?
Chemical fertilizers, also dubbed synthetic, manufactured, inorganic and artificial are refined with the aim of extracting nutrients and binding them in certain ratios with other chemicals. These products can be manufactured from rocks, petroleum products, and organic sources. Although some of the chemicals can be natural, but the overall difference is that in these fertilizers the nutrients are refined to their pure state as well as stripped of substances controlling their breakdown and availability that rarely takes place in nature.
Chemical Fertilizer: Advantages and Disadvantages
- Nutrients are available to your plants instantly, so you can count on a significant improvement in a couple of days.
- They can offer you the desired ratio of nutrients.
- Standardized labeling makes chemical sources and ratios very easy to understand.
- They are quite affordable.
Cons of chemical fertilizers
- They’re mostly manufactured from nonrenewable sources, such as fossil fuels.
- Despite being able to grow plants, sustaining the soil is what they can’t do. The fillers don’t promote life and soil health. Even so-called “complete” packages don’t come with the decaying matter required to improve soil structure. Obviously, chemical fertilizers aren’t able to replace a lot of crucial trace elements, which are depleted by constant crop plantings, causing long-term damage to the soil.
- Due to the fact that the nutrients are already available, you can expose your land to over fertilization. Apart from killing your plants, you can also have the entire ecosystem upset.
- They’re prone to leaking or filtering away from your plants, so extra applications might be required.
- Repeated applications can provoke a toxic buildup of chemicals, including cadmium, arsenic and even uranium. All this dangerous stuff can get to your vegetables and fruits.
- Long-term applications of these fertilizers can drastically change the soil pH, ruin beneficial microbial ecosystems, enhance pests, and even provoke the release of greenhouse gases.
Making a difficult choice
If you’re willing to live in full harmony with nature, making a long-lasting improvement in your garden, then organic fertilizers definitely outperform chemical ones. On the other hand, you can also benefit from chemical fertilizers, especially if you’re planning to grow the largest tomatoes in your neighborhood.
The term “commercial fertilizer” stands for any substance, which contains one or several reputable nutrients, such as potash, phosphoric acid and nitrogen, employed for its plant nutrient content and specially developed for use or at least claimed to be good at promoting plant surge, except unmanipulated vegetable or animal manures, lime, limestone, marl, gypsum, wood ashes as well as other products exempted by strict regulations.