- Types of Fertilizers
- Organic Fertilizer
- Inorganic Fertilizer
- Chemical Nitrogenous Fertilizer
- Phosphate Fertilizer
- Potassium Fertilizer
- Agriculture Nutrient Management and Fertilizer
- Fertilizers made from domestic septage and sewage sludge (biosolids)
- Manure as fertilizer
- Nutrient pollution
- Commercial fertilizer
- Recycling ammonia emissions as fertilizer
- Fertilizers made from wastes
- IT’S ORGANIC!
- Why Organic?
- Organic Fertilizers
- Chemical Fertilizers
- Dry Organic Fertilizers
- BIGGER BLOOMS
- Applying Dry Organic Fertilizers
- Liquid Organic Fertilizers
- Applying Liquid Fertilizers
- HIGHLY CONCENTRATED
- Nutrient Supplements
- Applying Nutrient Supplements
- Desired Effect
- Which Vegetables Need the Most Fertilizer?
- Biological Approaches that Promote Plant Health
- OMRI LISTED
- ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: COMPOSITION
- ORGANIC FERTILIZER NUTRIENTS
- INORGANIC FERTILIZER NUTRIENTS
- ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: ENVIRONMENT
- ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: THE END RESULT
- ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY LAWN CARE
- What are Organic Fertilizers?
- Various Benefits of Organic Fertilizers
- Different Types of Organic Fertilizers Used in the Garden
- Organic Fertilizer – Natural Nutrients to Fortify Your Lawn & Garden
- Here’s the scoop on chemical and organic fertilizers
Types of Fertilizers
If you’ve always wanted a beautiful lawn or garden but haven’t had much luck creating a healthy and vibrant outdoor space, fertilizer is a great way to enrich your soil and promote plant growth. Fertilizers come in several varieties, so it’s important to educate yourself before heading off to your local home gardening store or nursery. Check out our guide to different types of fertilizer below and get ready to give your garden growth a boost!
As the name implies, organic fertilizers are composed of naturally occurring biodegradable materials. Most organic fertilizers are made with:
- animal manure plus
- peat moss
- mineral deposits
- and other ingredients from nature.
Organic fertilizer is a great product because it is good for your garden now and later. It will help increase the direct yield of your plants as soon as you start fertilizing, and also improve the health and long-term productivity of your soil.
Inorganic fertilizer, or synthetic fertilizer, comes in several different forms — liquid, powdered, and granular. Often it is a brew of concentrated ammonia diluted with water. Rock phosphate and potassium are sometimes added to make a compound fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizers are generally used to treat sizable industrial fields because they are cheaper and more easily produced on a large scale than inorganic fertilizer. Inorganic fertilizers are also less bulky than organic fertilizers, which allows the plant to carry nutrients more easily from the soil to its leaves and fruits.
However, inorganic fertilizer can also lead to trace mineral depletion over time because most inorganic fertilizers do not put minerals back into the ground like organic fertilizers do. This results in fruit and vegetables with a lower mineral content.
Chemical Nitrogenous Fertilizer
Again, as the name implies, this type of fertilizer is rich in nitrogen content. Nitrogen gets converted into ammonia when the fertilizer is applied and dissolves when rain or irrigation systems wet the ground. The nutrients from the chemical nitrogenous fertilizer are then carried through the ground into the root system of the plant. Chemical nitrogenous fertilizers usually come in the form of white granules or pellets which are used to fertilize the soil before or during planting.
Phosphate fertilizer is good for acidic soils. Obtain organic phosphates or synthetic phosphate fertilizer depending on your needs. Bone meal is usually used to make organic phosphate fertilizer by grinding or steaming. Superphosphate is the chemical version of phosphate fertilizer. It comes in three grades: single, triple and dicalcium, and it is usually used during the sowing season.
Potassium fertilizers work well in sandy soil to improve the quality of plants and vegetables by increasing the potassium content in inadequate fields. The two main varieties of potassium fertilizer are: 1) sulfate of potash and 2) muriate of potash. Sulfate of potash is made by treating potassium chloride with magnesium sulfate to produce a fertilizer that can be used to enrich garden soil any time up to sowing. Muriate of potash uses a crystallized form of potash to fertilize plants. It does so without leaching into the soil, since most of the potash is absorbed at the ground surface level.
Now that you know a bit more about the different types of fertilizers available, you’ll be better prepared for your shopping trip to the local home and gardening store. For expert advice, consult a reliable landscaping professional.
Agriculture Nutrient Management and Fertilizer
On this page:
- Fertilizers made from domestic septage and sewage sludge (biosolids)
- Manure as fertilizer
- Nutrient pollution
- Commercial fertilizer
- Recycling ammonia emissions as fertilizer
- Fertilizers made from wastes
Most fertilizers that are commonly used in agriculture contain the three basic plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Some fertilizers also contain certain “micronutrients,” such as zinc and other metals, that are necessary for plant growth. Materials that are applied to the land primarily to enhance soil characteristics (rather than as plant food) are commonly referred to as soil amendments.
Fertilizers and soil amendments can be derived from:
- virgin raw material
- composts and other organic matter
- wastes, such as sewage sludge and certain industrial wastes.
Overuse of fertilizers has resulted in contamination of surface water and groundwater.
Fertilizers made from domestic septage and sewage sludge (biosolids)
Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic materials resulting from the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment facility. When treated and processed, these residuals can be recycled and applied as fertilizer to improve and maintain productive soils and stimulate plant growth. Biosolids are treated sewage sludge. Biosolids are carefully treated and monitored and must be used in accordance with regulatory requirements.
EPA offers guidance and technical assistance for the beneficial recycling of biosolids as soil amendments and fertilizer. The use of these valuable materials can enhance:
- water quality
- pollution prevention
- sustainable agriculture.
Sewage sludge that is used in agriculture is regulated under the Clean Water Act, and is currently subject to concentration limits for the following metals:
- Biosolids Laws and Regulations
- Plain English Guide to the EPA Part 503 Biosolids Rule
- A Guide to the Federal EPA Rule For Land Application of Domestic Septage to Non-Public Contact Sites
- Land Application of Sewage Sludge – A Guide for Land Appliers on the requirements of the federal standards for the use or disposal of sewage sludge, 40 CFR Part 503
- Biosolids — Frequently Asked Questions
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Manure as fertilizer
Agricultural producers can return manure and crop residues to the soil as fertilizers or soil conditioners on their own property unless prohibited by other State or local laws.
- Animal Production
- Animal Feeding Operations
More information from other organizations
- USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning (CNMP)
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Sources and Solutions: Agriculture – Animal manure, excess fertilizer applied to crops and fields, and soil erosion make agriculture one of the largest sources of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the country.
Estimated Animal Agriculture Nitrogen and Phosphorus from Manure – Animal agriculture manure is a primary source of nitrogen and phosphorus to surface and groundwater. Manure runoff from cropland and pastures or discharging animal feeding operations and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) often reaches surface and groundwater systems through surface runoff or infiltration.
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Commercial Fertilizer Purchased – Fertilizer is a primary source of nitrogen and phosphorus. It often reaches surface and groundwater systems through farm or urban/suburban runoff or infiltration. Fertilizer use and run-off can be significantly reduced by appropriate fertilizer application through:
- implementing best management practices
- employing precision agriculture methods.
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Recycling ammonia emissions as fertilizer
The USDA Agricultural Research Service has patented a new technology that can remove ammonia from livestock wastewater and recycle it as a fertilizer.
USDA Agricultural Research Service
- Livestock Waste Management 2.0: Recycling Ammonia Emissions as Fertilizer
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Fertilizers made from wastes
Industrial waste materials are often used in fertilizers as a source of zinc and other micronutrient metals. Current information indicates that:
- only a relatively small percentage of fertilizers is manufactured using industrial wastes as ingredients, and
- hazardous wastes are used as ingredients in only a small portion of waste-derived fertilizers.
Some fertilizers and soil amendments that are not derived from waste materials can nevertheless contain measurable levels of heavy metals such as:
EPA’s longstanding policy encourages the beneficial reuse and recycling of industrial wastes. This includes hazardous wastes, when such wastes can be used as safe and effective substitutes for virgin raw materials. EPA is examining whether some fertilizers or soil conditioners contain potentially harmful containment levels. However, the Agency believes that some wastes can be used beneficially in fertilizers when properly manufactured and applied.
Concerns have been raised regarding the use of certain wastes in the manufacture of agricultural fertilizers and soil amendments, and the potential for ecological or human health risks, as well as crop damage, when such fertilizers are applied to farmlands.
For fertilizers that contain hazardous waste, EPA standards specify limits on the levels of heavy metals and other toxic compounds that may be contained in the fertilizer products. These concentration limits are based on the “best demonstrated available technology” for reducing the toxicity and mobility of the hazardous constituents. However, fertilizer made from one specific type of hazardous waste air pollution control dust generated during steel manufacturing is not subject to those concentration limits. This exemption is based on a 1988 finding by EPA that the composition of this particular waste is comparable to the materials that would otherwise be used to make this type of fertilizer, and that its typical use is not harmful. All other fertilizers that contain hazardous wastes are, however, subject to the contaminant concentration limits established by EPA.
In some States, the regulations on hazardous waste use in fertilizers may be more stringent than the Federal standards, since States can adopt regulations that are more stringent and/or broader in scope than the Federal regulations.
For food chain crops, farming can occur on land where hazardous constituents are applied as long as the agricultural producer receives a permit from the EPA Regional Administrator. Agricultural producers must demonstrate that there is no substantial risk to human health caused by the growth of such crops.
Unless prohibited by other State or local laws, agricultural producers can dispose of solid, non-hazardous agricultural wastes on their own property. This includes:
- manure and crop residues returned to the soil as fertilizers or soil conditioners, and
- solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows.
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Early to bed, early to rise, Work like hell: fertilize. – Emily Whaley
In a perfect world, your garden’s soil would provide all the nutrients and trace elements plants need. But in the real world, garden and lawn soil — and thus the plants that live in them — often needs a little boost.
Improving the health of your soil is the number one thing you can do to improve your garden, yard or landscape and organic fertilizers can help. They provide a wide array of macro and micronutrients, encourage lush growth and beautiful blooms and give long-lasting, healthy results year after year.
Planet Natural carries a large variety of natural and organic fertilizers designed to encourage growth, blooms and bountiful harvests. Give them a try… your gardens will perform beyond your highest expectations!
All plants need:
- Macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
- Secondary nutrients – sulfur, calcium and magnesium
- Micronutrients – iron, manganese, zinc, chlorine, boron, copper and nickel (in very small quantities)
Organic fertilizing can be as easy or as technical as you want it to be. For gardeners who don’t wish to spend a lot of time figuring out what individual plants want, there are commercial blends that can be used on all plants.
For those who like to treat each plant as an individual there are singular fertilizers or mixes for every kind of plant. Often fertilizing protocol changes as the plant grows. Keep reading to review the best fertilizing method for you.
Plants can’t tell if the nitrogen, or other essential nutrients, they are taking up came from an organic or chemical source, but choosing an organic over chemical fertilizer does have an impact on the health of your vegetables, your soil and groundwater.
Organic fertilizers actually improve the soil, while chemical or synthetic fertilizers deplete the soil over the long run.
Chemical fertilizers came about after WWII when the companies that made ammonia gas for explosives needed to find a way to stay in business. So, they figured out how to make ammonia gas (mostly nitrogen) into fertilizer.
Dry Organic Fertilizers
Dry fertilizers can be made from a single ingredient (such as greensand, blood meal or steamed bone meal) or a blend of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus plus micronutrients. There are many commercial blends available or you can make your own. See our article Fertilizer Recipes: How to Make Your Own for some time-tested tips.
Ideal for fruit trees and ALL flowering plants! Dr. Earth® Bud & Bloom Booster is a hand-crafted organic fertilizer used to promote MAXIMUM blooms and strong root development. Each 4 lb box feeds 80 one-gallon plants or 16 five-gallon plants.
Applying Dry Organic Fertilizers
- Before planting broadcast dry fertilizer across the soil.
- Rake or hoe fertilizer into the top 4-6 inches.
- Add small amounts to planting holes or rows.
- Side dress plants during the growing season.
Liquid Organic Fertilizers
Plants have the ability to absorb liquids through both their roots and their stomata (pores on the leaf’s surface). Liquid fertilizers can be applied to the soil or sprayed on to the leaves (see Foliar Fertilization – PDF).
Liquid fertilizers (whether a commercial blend, fish emulsion or compost tea) are especially beneficial during critical times in a plant’s life such as just after transplanting, during extreme temperatures or drought, or when the plant is blooming or setting fruit). Foliar fertilizing will also benefit plants throughout the growing season and can be applied every 2-4 weeks.
Applying Liquid Fertilizers
- Always follow label instructions.
- Using a surfactant (coconut oil or mild soap — 1/4 tsp per gallon of spray) to help get the best coverage.
- Check the spray’s pH — a slightly acidic fertilizer (6.0-6.5) is best (lower pH with vinegar).
- Use a spray mister with the finest mist possible.
- Spray until liquid drips off the leaves, being sure to spray the underside of leaves where pores are most likely to be open.
- Spray during the early morning or late evening for best absorption.
- OR water liquid fertilizers around the roots of plants.
Bulbs and transplants get a little extra love from Down to Earth® Liquid Bone Meal (0-12-0). Add this easy-to-apply formulation of phosphorus and calcium from micronized material to your daffodils, fruit trees and any other plants to get better root growth plus excellent bud and flower set. Apply as a soil drench or foliar spray.
Having little or no N-P-K of their own, nutrient supplements are designed to optimize fertilizers, not act as them. Containing vitamins, minerals, and hormones not found in most commercial plant foods, these give your plants “that little something extra.” The most well known is kelp which:
- contains at least 60 trace elements that plants need in very small quantities
- contains growth promoting enzymes and hormones
- stimulates soil bacteria (which increases fertility through humus formation, aeration and moisture retention)
Kelp is sold both as a dry meal and as a liquid concentrate.
Applying Nutrient Supplements
- Liquid supplements can be applied following the same method as liquid fertilizers.
- Kelp meal should be applied at 1-2 lbs per 100 square feet each spring. Kelp extract can be applied weekly to outdoor plants at a rate of 3 tablespoons per gallon of water.
- If you can find fresh seaweed, rinse the salt off and use it in the garden as mulch or throw it in the compost pile.
Bird & Animal Manures: Good nutrient source and chock-full of microorganisms. Should be well-aged or composted before applying directly to the garden.
Blood Meal: Slow release source of nitrogen plus trace minerals. Apply just before planting and use sparingly.
Fish Meal/ Emulsion: Source of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace elements. Releases quickly.
Greensand: Rich in potassium and numerous micronutrients. Can be used to loosen clay soils. Apply 5-10 lbs per 100 square feet.
Shellfish Meal: Strong source of calcium (23%), nitrogen, phosphorus and micronutrients. May also be used to inhibit root-knot nematodes.
Rock Phosphate: Great for flowering plants and provides a 10 year phosphate reserve.
Once you figure out what you want from your fertilizer, it is easy to pick the right one.
|Promote large blooms and fruits||Bat guano|
|Promote sturdy above-ground plant growth||Blood meal
|Promote root growth in transplants and seedlings||Phosphate rock
|Enhance composting process||Alfalfa meal
|Bind sandy soil||Colloidal rock phosphate|
|Loosen clay soil||Greensand
Which Vegetables Need the Most Fertilizer?
Light Feeding Vegetables
Bean, beet, carrot, onion, pea, potato, radish, turnip
Biological Approaches that Promote Plant Health
Mycorrhizae are beneficial soil organisms that are probably already growing in your soil. They form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots. Mycorrhizal fungi benefit plants by:
- Colonizing plant roots and sending hyphae throughout the soil, essentially extending the plant’s reach.
- Blocking disease organisms.
- Absorbing phosphorous, water and trace minerals — and sharing them with the plant.
- Excreting sticky compounds that bind the soil into aggregates, keeping the soil porous and airy.
You can promote mycorrhizal growth by not tilling the soil (this tears them up) or by inoculating your garden with a purchased mycorrhizae product like Plant Success Granular. This easy to apply formula contains a mixture of beneficial fungi (11 species of mycorrhizae and 2 species of trichoderma) that are well suited to a wide variety of soils, climates and plants. Also includes kelp meal, humus, vitamins and amino acids to improve mycorrhizal germination and effectiveness.
Worms improve the soil in many ways:
- Improve the structure of the soil (aerating clay soils and binding sandy soils together).
- Burrowing opens channels for root growth.
- They help regulate water (moving moisture to dry areas and draining water clogged areas).
- Chomping up leaves and other organic debris.
- Worms leave behind castings full of nutrients.
It’s not just the worms that are good for your garden, their nutrient-rich castings (basically worm poop) are an excellent soil additive. Castings can be produced commercially, or you can raise worms yourself. Read our article Composting with Worms to learn how.
There are a lot of ways to reap the benefits of worm castings, including:
- Top Dressing: Spread a layer (1/2 inch deep) of castings around plants. Mulch and water.
- Seed Starting Mix: 3 parts aged compost or coconut coir to 1 part castings.
- Potting Mix: 2 parts aged compost, 1 part castings, 1/2 part vermiculite.
- Trees and Fruit Trees: Apply around the base and water well. Reapply when necessary.
The best fertilizer for your garden varies, depending on the types of plants and your stance on cost and environmental impact. Organic fertilizer vs. inorganic is mainly a question of nutrient needs. Both organic and inorganic fertilizers provide the necessary nutrients for growth, but where inorganic fertilizers deliver a rapid dose of nutrients, organic moves slower, more naturally and healthily.
ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: COMPOSITION
Fertilizers, no matter the kind, provide your plants with the macronutrients they need that might be in short supply in your soil. Organic and inorganic fertilizers deliver these nutrients in different ways. Organic fertilizers are natural, in that the nutrients they possess are strictly comprised of plant- or animal-based materials. Either byproducts or end products of natural processes. Cow manure, decaying leaves, and food compost are all forms of organic fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizer is synthetic, comprised of minerals and synthetic chemicals. Inorganic nitrogen is commonly made from petroleum. Most of the minerals in inorganic fertilizer are mined from the earth, and balanced inorganic fertilizers are high in all three macronutrients and can contain ammonium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and potassium chloride.
ORGANIC FERTILIZER NUTRIENTS
Organic fertilizers release nutrients as they break down, improving the soil and its ability to hold water and nutrients. Given time, they make your soil and plants healthier and hardier. Organic fertilizers carry little risk of a toxic overdose of chemicals, but they require a breakdown of microorganisms to release nutrients, limiting their seasonal effectiveness and potentially increasing the amount of time they take to feed your plants.
INORGANIC FERTILIZER NUTRIENTS
Inorganic fertilizers are a fast dose of nutrients, feeding your plants how you want and when you want. They are fully artificial and manufactured in exact doses. Their nutrient ratios are clearly printed on the bag, and there is an inorganic fertilizer to meet your plant’s specific needs. Even though they are an almost perfect food source for your plants, they provide nothing for the soil, limiting their effectiveness in the long-term. There is also the very real risk of a toxic overdose of chemicals that leach arsenic, cadmium, and uranium into the soil, potentially affecting any growing fruits or vegetables.
ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: ENVIRONMENT
The question of organic fertilizer vs. inorganic is largely affected by their individual environmental impacts. Organic fertilizers are an environmentally sound investment in your soil and plant’s future. They are created from the byproducts or end products of naturally occurring processes, which means they come directly from nature itself. Even though they take longer to work, and the exact ratio of nutrients is indeterminable, organic fertilizers provide a healthy food source for your plants and protect your little part of the environment.
Inorganic fertilizers are perfectly measured out shots of nutrients exactly when you need them most but at significant cost. They can easily upset the entire ecosystem, create a toxic buildup of chemicals, and long-term use changes the pH of the soil, increases a pest problem, and releases greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are raising the temperature of the Earth, causing climate change.
ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: THE END RESULT
While the decision is ultimately yours, there is a lot to consider carefully with organic fertilizer vs. inorganic.
- Do the positives of inorganic fertilizer outweigh the negative?
- Do the disadvantages of organic fertilizer diminish the advantages?
Your plant’s needs are a large factor that shouldn’t be ignored. If they need food fast, inorganic might be the way to go. If you’re more interested in a long-term solution to nutrients, you’ll probably prefer organic. In bag form, organic fertilizer is significantly more expensive than inorganic, but there are cheaper alternatives to bags. And the environmental factor is important to consider. If you want healthier plants, a healthier you, and a healthier environment, organic is your best bet.
ORGANIC FERTILIZER VS. INORGANIC: ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY LAWN CARE
If you’re interested in environmentally friendly lawn care, switching from your current traditional commercial lawn care company to a full-service company like Mowbot is a perfect option. Traditional companies use gas-based cars and equipment and create cross-contamination situations. If you’re strictly using organic fertilizers, your neighbor might not, and a lawn mower that serviced your neighbor carries those contaminants on its wheels and blades. Mowbot uses a robotic mower that lives and stays in your yard. The Robot Wranglers only used battery-powered cars and equipment, and the threat of noxious fumes and contamination is eliminated.
What are Organic Fertilizers?
Organic fertilizers are the ones sourced from organic materials such as plants, mineral or animal sources. Unlike the traditional chemical fertilizers, organic fertilizers have to occur naturally. The organic fertilizers vary based on the nutrient requirements for the firm, but in most cases, the organic fertilizers are comprised of a single ingredient.
The nutritional and ingredient value of organic fertilizers doesn’t provide immediate fix compared to the chemical fertilizers. Instead, they slowly break down by the action of organisms and biological processes in order for the plants to acquire the nutrients while at the same time conditioning and rejuvenating the soil.
Organic fertilizers are therefore eco-friendly and that’s why they are preferred in organic and healthy farming. The chief examples of organic fertilizers include fish extracts, plant waste from agriculture, animal waste, treated sewage sludge, and peat.
Various Benefits of Organic Fertilizers
Due to the nature and origin of organic fertilizers, they have several benefits. Most farmers are now opting for organic fertilizers because of its associated benefits as opposed to the chemical fertilizers. Organic fertilizers not only improve and condition the soil but also enhance the yield and health of the plants. The following are the benefits associated with the use of organic fertilizers.
On-Farm preparation and production
Organic fertilizers do not require intensive industrial process to produce or prepare. The preparation and production process is fairly simple as it can be locally prepared. In most cases, it is prepared and produced in the firm. An example is the process of composting which only requires the use of some basic steps to come up with compost manure.
The local preparation and production of organic fertilizer proves to be beneficial because it lowers the overall costs of fertilizer inputs. Further, it aids in emission reduction by eliminating the need for industrially processed fertilizers and it’s transportation to the farm.
Enhanced soil fertility and improved soil texture, drainage and aeration
With the use of organic fertilizers, the soil is constantly conditioned and rejuvenated thereby enhancing soil texture, drainage and aeration. The mineral and nutrient breakdown of organic fertilizers take time and more than half still rests on the soil after the first one year, slowly breaking down to feed and nourish the soil. Thus, organic fertilizers ensure that the soil stay fertile for hundreds of years.
In places where organic farming was heavily practiced thousands of years ago, the farms are still fertile. Examples include the ancient farm lands of China and India which have remained fertile even after a period of a thousand years. Nonetheless, soil fertility of such areas is currently being watered down due to the use of chemical fertilizers.
Non-toxic food products
There is a common saying that “what an entity takes in is what makes it up”. The same highly applies in food stuffs and food products. Accordingly, it means that food products that are fertilized with organic materials are free of harmful chemicals. It promotes a healthy society and those who consume organic food products are free of health risks associated with skin and brain disorders, strokes and cancers as compared to those who eat food stuff produced by chemical fertilizers. In other words, organic fertilizers ensure the consumption of non-toxic food products.
Low investment capital
The use of organic fertilizer in farming implies the use of local animal and plant products or waste. These materials for preparing and producing fertilizer are readily and locally available on the farm which does not require the farmer to invest in expensive fertilizer like the chemical ones.
Besides, organic fertilizers maintain the fertility of the soil for an extended period, thereby reducing the need for fertilizer requirement because the soil will always be rich in vital nutrients. Also, the farmer does not need to invest in other expensive farm inputs for improving soil fertility and crop productivity.
Organic fertilizers are in sync with the natural requirements for environmental sustainability and continuity. Their bio-degradable nature continues the nutrient cycle and supports natural bio-chemical activities. Above all, organic fertilizers do not contain the harmful chemicals that contribute to the pollution and contamination of water and land. The use of organic fertilizers can as well protect against the extinction of a number of animal, insect and plant species that are highly affected by the use of chemical fertilizers.
The bulk of the chemical fertilizers are processed and produced by large plants in automated settings with the utilization of sophisticated machinery that can produce millions of tons annually. On the other hand, organic fertilizers are best processed and produced locally on a small-scale basis. For this reason, the processing and production of organic fertilizers can create employment opportunities particularly for those residing in the rural areas.
The green way of organic fertilizer production contributes to a resource-efficient, sustainable and low-carbon economy which promotes a competitive economy. The organic fertilizer industry incorporates localized resource-efficient food production initiatives which generate regional economic development.
Different Types of Organic Fertilizers Used in the Garden
Manure is among the many types of organic fertilizers used in the garden. It comes from the waste of sheep, horses, poultry and cattle. It’s the easiest to process and produce as it is essentially made up of animal excreta with some litter material. Manure is also termed as “complete” fertilizer because it has lots of organic matter. However, manure has very low nutrient concentration thereby making it mostly valuable as organic soil improvement element. Manure must be composted or properly prepared as the use of fresh manure has scorching effect on the plants.
Bone meal refers to organic fertilizers made of finely ground bones. The bones are obtained from cattle and animal bone remains from the slaughterhouses. It is a vital source of calcium and is made up of up to 15% of phosphate. Its usage as an organic fertilizer is to stimulate flowering and the growth of strong root systems. It is majorly used to fertilize bulbs, flowers and fruit trees.
Blood meal refers to dried and powdered blood of animals, especially from cattle slaughterhouses. It is usually used as organic fertilizer owing to its richness in nitrogen nutrient. Blood mean is therefore a good organic fertilizer for promoting green leafy growth. Usage and application should be done sparingly, as over-application can contribute to the burning of the plant root.
Shellfish fertilizer as the name suggest is processed and produced from the crashed shells or bones of shellfish and crabs. Just like the bone meal, shellfish organic fertilizer is rich in calcium and also has some considerable amount of phosphorous together with other trace minerals. This means it aid in the stimulation of flowering and the growth of strong root systems. Furthermore, it has chitin which promotes the growth of organisms that inhibit destructive roundworm pests.
Seabird guano refers to the accumulated excrement of seabirds. It normally accumulates in the rock areas of arid Sea Islands because these regions experience very minimal rainfall and decomposition. On this account, seabird guano has high content of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other trace elements. These nutrients are good for flowering plants and promote the growth of strong root systems.
Bat Guano refers to the accumulated excrement of cave-dwelling bats. The nutrients in the guano is preserved and protected by the caves from leaching which makes it a very good source of organic fertilizer. It is rich in soluble phosphorous, nitrogen, potassium and trace elements which are important for plant growth. Since it’s powdery, it can be easily applied and is often used throughout the year for topdressing or used as a foliar spray when diluted in tea.
Fish emulsion is an organic fertilizer used in the garden which is processed by decomposing a combination of finely powdered fish. It has high levels of calcium and some considerable amount of phosphorous together with other trace minerals. It’s thus important in stimulating the flowering of plants and the growth of strong root systems. Just like manure and blood meal, its usage has to be managed because it has scorching effect on the plant roots.
Greensand is an olive-green sandstone containing glauconite otherwise known as iron potassium silicate. It results from the sea deposits of shells. It is very rich in potassium, iron and other several micronutrients. It aids in the stimulation of flowering and fruition in fruit trees.
Rock phosphate is a rock made up of lime-phosphate or calcium that can is ground to form small particles or powder that can be used as organic fertilizer. Rock phosphate results from the accumulation of animal waste through sedimentation and compaction. It has over 30% phosphate together with high concentrations of trace micronutrients. It remains beneficial as a fertilizer on the account that it does not leach and remains in the original state until absorbed by the plant roots, thereby encouraging healthy growth.
Image credit: Myriams , Hans
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Organic Fertilizer – Natural Nutrients to Fortify Your Lawn & Garden
2-3-4 – Vegetable & Fruit Fertilizer
Our organic garden fertilizer provides well-balanced nutrition for most fruit and vegetable crops. Formulated with a high potassium ratio favored by most fruits and vegetables. BUY NOW
3-5-3 – Flower & Plant Starting Fertilizer
This organic phosphorus fertilizer provides the ideal phosphorus level for starting seeds. Organic phosphorus fertilizer also encourages flowering, which makes it an especially effective organic garden fertilizer for flowers and bulbs. BUY NOW
5-3-4 – General Purpose Fertilizer
Our most popular blend among farmers, landscapers and home gardeners, this rapid-response organic fertilizer performs well in a variety of applications and is the best organic grass fertilizer for a lush, green lawn. BUY NOW
6-0-4 – Organic Low Phosphorous Fertilizer
The perfect organic grass fertilizer in areas with phosphorus restrictions, our low phosphorus fertilizer is also an excellent general purpose fertilizer for gardens and farm crops where fertilizers have been overused. BUY NOW
8-1-1 – Green-Up & Side Dress Fertilizer
This high nitrogen fertilizer was designed for use as a mid-season side dress for row crops but can also be used to correct nitrogen deficiencies in the lawn or garden. BUY NOW
5-3-4 – Horticultural Fertilizer
Our 5-3-4 fertilizer blend, combined with micronutrients. Specifically formulated for plants growing in soil-less media such as peat, bark or coir. BUY NOW
8-0-0 – Corn Gluten Fertilizer
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Here’s the scoop on chemical and organic fertilizers
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Spring is the time for thinking about fertilizers. Organic options are a great way to go.
Organic fertilizers such as manures, compost or bone meal are derived directly from plant or animal sources, according to Ross Penhallegon, horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. Inorganic fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate or ammonium phosphate are often called commercial or synthetic fertilizers because they go through a manufacturing process, although many of them come from naturally occurring mineral deposits.
Inorganic fertilizers usually contain only a few nutrients – generally nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur and sometimes micronutrients, either singly or in combination. These nutrients are in a form readily available to plants. However, since they are lost from the soil quickly, you may have to fertilize plants several times during the growing season unless you use a specially formulated, slow-release type.
Some nutrients, such as nitrate, are quickly available for uptake by plant roots, Penhallegon said. If you need only a certain element such as nitrogen and want it to be quickly available to your plants, an inorganic fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate might be in order.
Organic fertilizers usually contain plant nutrients in low concentrations. Many of these nutrients have to be converted into inorganic forms by soil bacteria and fungi before plants can use them, so they typically are more slowly released, especially during cold weather when soil microbes are not as active.
But organic fertilizers have advantages. They don’t make a crust on the soil as inorganic fertilizers sometimes do. They improve water movement into the soil and, in time, add structure to the soil. Organics feed beneficial microbes, making the soil easier to work. But they may cost more than chemical, or inorganic fertilizers, because they are less concentrated, supplying fewer nutrients pound for pound.
Since many chemical/inorganic fertilizers are concentrated and very soluble, it’s easier to apply too much and damage your plants. Fresh, non-composted manure can damage your plants as well, because some manure contains harmful amounts of salts. They can also be a source of weed seeds.
Penhallegon has collected information about the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) content of many of the organic substances commonly used as fertilizer in Oregon. His report, “Values of Organic Fertilizers,” also contains information about how quickly an organic fertilizer releases available nutrients and a reference list on organic gardening.
“One of the most difficult things to determine for an organic gardener is how much organic fertilizer to use, say on 1,000 square feet of garden,” said Penhallegon. “For a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 12-11-2, this means 12 percent is nitrogen, 11 percent is phosphorus and 2 percent is potassium. In simple terms, this means each 100-pound bag of the fertilizer would contain 12 pounds of nitrogen, 11 pounds phosphorus and two pounds nitrogen.
“For example, using 12-11-2 fertilizer, if we knew we wanted to apply one pound of nitrogen, we would use 1/12th of 100 pounds,” he said. “This equals about 8 pounds of this fertilizer applied to get one pound of nitrogen out there in the soil.”
Blood meal (12.5-1.5-0.6) releases nutrients over a period of two to six weeks.
To make soil less acidic, gardeners want materials rich in calcium, including clamshells, oyster shells, wood ashes, dolomite and gypsum (all are at least 30 percent calcium carbonate or straight calcium).
Many garden centers and feed stores carry organic fertilizers and amendments for gardens.