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Organic vs. Inorganic Fertilizer

Fertilizer added to the soil gives crucial growth material to plant life. Between organic and inorganic fertilizer, it’s important to understand that there is no fundamental nutritional difference between the two types of fertilizers. It makes no difference to the beet root where it absorbs its nutrients from. There are differences, however, and the following article will help to explain them.

Organic fertilizers are made from materials of living things. Animal manure, compost heaps, and bonemeal are examples of organic fertilizers. Unlike inorganic fertilizers, it cannot be utilized by plants until decomposition has taken place. In order for plants to use the nutrients, the soil has to break it down into simpler molecules. If you spread manure on the garden or flower beds in the spring, the plants won’t be able to consume it until midsummer. If organic is your only source of fertilizer, then your garden could experience nutrient deprivation for short periods of time without the proper planning.

Using organic materials improves the soils structure. It can hold both nutrients and water, creating a slow release of nutrients over a longer period of time. An oversupply of nitrogen generates faster growth, but weakens the plant system. This leads to susceptibility from bacteria, fungus, and stress from heat, cold, and drought conditions.

Inorganic fertilizers are manufactured from nonliving elements. They are immediately available to the plants as a source of food. Without the use of this quick acting fertilizer, more than 50% of the food available on the world market would be eliminated.

Three problems arise from the use of inorganic fertilizers.

  • Leaching happens when the fertilizer is washed below the level of the plant roots. Rain or irrigation water can wash nitrogen and phosphorus away, which will eventually pollute the ground water.
  • The second problem associated with inorganic fertilizer is a burn effect it has on plants. Too much of this chemical can burn or dry out young seedlings. This usually happens on golf courses, where large areas of yellow grass are visible to the naked eye. A high amount of chemical salts weren’t watered down at the time application.
  • The last problem occurs over time; the soil can build up toxic levels of chemical salts. This makes it harder for the plants to stand up to drought, insect infestation, and drastic temperature swings.

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Links:

http://africanagriculture.blogspot.com/2008/02/organic-vs-inorganic-fertilizer.html

http://bostongardens.com/bostongardens/detail.cfm?id=1186&catid=14&webid=1

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