Updated: Jan 29
IS THERE A BENEFIT TO ORGANIC FERTILIZERS?
The use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers has steadily increased over the last 50 years. These inorganic fertilizers contain inorganic nutrient salts that demand regular, more frequent applications often requiring three times the water. They cause rapid, sappy growth and result in more diseases and pests. Most people don't realize it, but it's often their use of inorganic fertilizers that causes them to go out and buy pesticides. Because the fertilizer is inorganic, when it's used it runs the risk of throwing the nutrients off balance, resulting in improper growth. It can stimulate growth that's not well-timed, and with external conditions, destroy micro-organisms that are useful to plants, can burn plant roots, and ruin soil structure. All of this along with the continual digging needed because of its inability to sustain micro-organisms and minerals, leads to soil erosion and land degradation. Inorganic fertilizers do not allow for the replacement of trace mineral elements in the soil, which become gradually depleted by what's grown. For fruits and vegetables, this leads to lower levels of antioxidants (such as carotenoids and alpha-linoleic acids). Furthermore, inorganic fertilizers are washed out and wasted with winter rains to pollute our water courses.
The high levels of nitrogen found in inorganic fertilizers create high levels of duckweed and algae blooms in ponds and waterways. Duckweed is an aquatic weed that thrives in freshwater. Duckweed feeds off nitrogen and phosphorous contained in fertilizers, sewage and river run-off. When our water basins (ponds, lakes, rivers, streams) aren’t able to purify themselves from all of the toxins that ultimately runoff through the ground and surface water, the basins seek their own mechanism of self-purification; creating duckweed is a natural reaction to pollution, but it ultimately chokes out ponds because it's able to double its size every 48 hours. When Duckweed dies and rots it absorbs oxygen, which kills fish. Never fish in a waterway where you see duckweed!
The advantages to using organic fertilizers and amendments are numerous. Organic fertilizers maintain healthy balanced growth over the whole season and stimulate beneficial soil micro-organisms. These improve the soil's condition and release nutrients in time with seasonal plant needs. They don't cause leaf burn, soil damage or toxicity. They provide you with healthier, fine looking plants. They also provide you with better tasting fruits, vegetables and herbs that are less disease prone.
Organic soil improvers like seaweed, farmyard manure, garden compost and green manures, add humus to the soil. This creates a reserve for water and plant nutrients. Humus will encourage earthworms and beneficial soil organisms. It will help to build a good soil structure for longer term benefit. Top brand names now promote organic fertilizers. Humus is an organic soil amendment and is available at most nursery and landscape material yards. Humus is animal and vegetable matter decomposed by bacterium microorganisms. Humus also contains several horticulture nutrients: organic calcium, organic nitrogen, bagasses extract, potassium hydroxide, biuret urea and phosphoric acid.