With our movement toward an eco-friendly environment, the use of chemical fertilizers is being questioned. Chemical fertilizers can not only be hard on your garden, your animals, and the environment in general, but they can also be hard on you. Chemical fertilizers can leave residues on the foods you eat, the lawn you play on, and can leak into the water you drink. Among many other reasons, these few are enough to realize that natural fertilizers are a better and safer choice.
Organic fertilizers are made of nutrients that are obtained from the byproducts or remains of an organism. These things include cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, manure, sewage sludge, and more. These organic fertilizers are naturally high in phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium. These three components are the three chief nutrients required for plant growth. Chemical fertilizers contain these three nutrients in synthetic form. These types of fertilizers rely on microorganisms living in the soil. The microorganisms break them down so that the fertilizers can release the nutrients.
Chemical fertilizers are made from inorganic materials. Many of these man-made fertilizers contain harsh acids. This means that the fertilizer will more effectively break down the soil’s natural microorganisms. While this may sounds good, in reality, the acids can actually stunt plant growth by destroying nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These microorganisms are important for supplying nitrogen needed for plant growth. Chemical fertilizers do have one positive aspect; many home gardeners find that target soils have nutrient deficiencies. Chemical fertilizers offset this problem by containing all three important nutrients: phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen. Organic fertilizers on the other hand vary in the levels of these three nutrients. It is hard to determine the exact amounts of the nutrients found in organic fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers are less expensive on average. They also happen to be much more cost effective. In fact, many gardeners have cut back on costs by creating their own organic fertilizers. This is done by combing manure with other organic matter. These organic fertilizers can be made to fit personal needs, or to attack specific deficiencies. Chemical fertilizers, on the other hand, must be purchased at varying costs.
Organic fertilizers are considered to be slow-release fertilizers. Depending on the plant and on the specific situation, slow-release fertilizers can be either beneficial or harmful to plants.
Slow-release fertilizers reduce the risk of over fertilization, but they also are unable to fulfill the need of immediate nutrition. The organic fertilizer may not ever be able to fulfill nutrient needs. Chemical fertilizers are able to immediately supply necessary nutrients when it is important to do so.
Another negative aspect of chemical fertilizers is their tendency to be high in acids.