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What Is Organic Fertilizer

What Is Organic Fertilizer

Ever wonder what the differences are between processed or "chemical" fertilizers and "organic" fertilizers? Each differs in the degree of processing it goes through, according to the Oregon State University Master Gardener handbook, "Sustainable Gardening," and OSU soil scientist John Hart. Processed fertilizers are manufactured or are refined from natural materials such as rock, animal or petroleum products.

Ammonium sulfate, ammonium phosphate and potassium sulfate are examples of processed fertilizers. The fertilizers that you buy for your garden or lawn, such as 10-10-10 are usually composed of mixtures of these types of fertilizers. Nutrients are usually immediately available to plants and are quite concentrated. Organic fertilizers are composed of natural materials such as mined minerals, animal or plant materials, with little or no processing. (I really recommend this organic fertelizer for vegetables)

Nutrients are released slowly by natural biological and chemical processes in soil and are relatively low in concentration when compared to processed fertilizers. Organics range from relatively cost free manure from a backyard horse, cow or rabbits to expensive packaged products such as bagged bat guano or blood meal. Packaged processed fertilizers generally cost less per pound of nutrients than packaged organic fertilizers.

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Nutrients in processed fertilizers are usually immediately available to plants. Organic fertilizer nutrients are not all as quickly available; they release some of their nutrients more slowly, over the course of weeks or months. Nutrients from either organic or processed fertilizer can be lost and run off to surface or ground water if plants do not use them.

Improved soil structure, a season-long supply of nutrients, and an increased water-holding capacity are just some of the benefits of using organic fertilizers. How does a corn or tomato plant react to organic versus synthetic inorganic fertilizers? Are organic tomatoes higher in lycopene and vitamin content than conventional tomatoes? These are some interesting questions for both consumers and producers.

The What Are Organic-based Fertilizers? - Ecofi IdeasIrrespective of whether nutrients originate from organic or inorganic sources, plants are only capable of absorbing nutrients in certain forms. For example, nitrogen is only absorbed as nitrate (NO3-) ions or ammonium (NH4+) ions and potassium only as K+ ions. Thus, plants do not differentiate between nutrients derived from organic and inorganic fertilizer sources.

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However, when organic forms such as manure or compost are applied to the soil, the organic matter has to be first mineralized, or broken down, by microorganisms and its nutrients released to the soil as ions. This enables plant roots to absorb them. Thus, nutrients derived from organic fertilizer sources are not as readily available to plants compared to nutrients from soluble synthetic fertilizers.

Most organic fertilizers also have nutrient levels closer to 1-1-1 grade. Therefore, supplying all the nitrogen needs of plants using organic fertilizers may lead to an over-application of phosphorus. Let’s not overlook the multiple benefits of organic fertilizers. The gradual release of nutrients would ensure a season-long supply. Being less soluble means minimum nutrient losses to the environment and less salt injury to plants.

They stimulate microbial activity and improve soil structure. Organic fertilizers also are valuable sources of micronutrients to plants. As to the nutritional value of the product, there are some reports that organic tomatoes have a higher flavonoid and vitamin content compared conventional tomatoes. These results are intriguing, but not consistent.

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Consumer perceptions on human health and sensory attributes, however, still favor the consumption of organic foods in general. The improper use of animal waste as an organic fertilizer source in fresh vegetables is currently causing severe food safety issues with E. coli contamination. This ‘organic versus conventional’ debate, however, will continue.

If you read a number of web sites, especially organic gardening ones, you quickly realize that there are two basic kinds of fertilizer. There is the ‘synthetic fertilizer’ which you buy in bags. This fertilizer is clearly BAD! Then there is the good stuff; organic fertilizer. What is the real difference between organic fertilizer and synthetic fertilizer? Is there a difference? The answer may surprise you - vegetable.

From a gardeners perspective, fertilizer may contain NPK and minor nutrients (sulfur, magnesium, iron etc). The NPK number is a short form for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Synthetic fertilizer is also called inorganic fertilizer or commercial fertilizer to differentiate it from organic fertilizer. This fertilizer is either mined from the ground or synthesized by man.

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Any fertilizer that originates from an organic source is considered to be organic. Some examples include fish extracts, manure, and compost. It can be purchased in bags or bottles and can be ordered in bulk as trailer loads. To better understand the differences between fertilizers it is important to understand things from the plants point of view.

Jobe’s Organics 09524 Purpose Granular Fertilizer

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Nitrate is also a small molecule, NO3, and it is also absorbed into the root. Other nutrients such as phosphorous, potassium, iron, magnesium etc are all small enough to enter the roots. Large molecules like proteins, DNA, carbohydrates etc are huge in size compared to the nutrients. They just don’t fit through the holes.

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Large organic molecules do contain nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, iron, for example, but in the organic form they are too big to get into the roots. For example, protein is a good source of iron, but because protein molecules are so big, plants can not use the iron contained in the protein.

For a better understanding of this see . Plants need the small molecules in order to grow. One of the key nutrients, besides water, is nitrogen and plants usually get nitrogen in the form of a nitrate molecule. Let’s look at nitrate molecules in more detail. What is the difference between a nitrate molecule from a synthetic fertilizer and an organic fertilizer? The pictures below shows the two molecules.

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A nitrate molecule from either source is exactly the same. More importantly plants can’t tell the difference either. I’ll repeat the last sentence since it is one of the biggest gardening myths. There is absolutely no difference between a nitrate molecule from a synthetic source and a nitrate molecule from an organic source.

How can they be the same when organic is so much better?? The fact is that when it comes to providing nutrients for the plants, organic is NOT better. It is exactly the same as a synthetic source. From a strictly chemical nutrient point of view organic is not better, nor is it worse than synthetic.

However we can look at things from a different perspective and then we will find that organic is better- see , for more details.

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What is the difference between organic fertilizer and synthetic fertilizer? Fertilizers come from a variety of sources – both natural and man-made – and play a huge role in the long-term health of our soils. It’s important to understand how organic and synthetic fertilizers compare and how they’re impacting our environment.

Organic fertilizers are known to benefit both the plant and the soil. The term organic does not refer to the process the fertilizer goes through and does not imply that it is a certified USDA organic product, but instead, is used to reflect that the ingredients in the fertilizer are minimally processed.

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Synthetic fertilizers are known to directly feed your plants to achieve rapid growth, but do little to stimulate the soil. So what are the major differences between these types of fertilizers? Although organically derived fertilizers typically have a lower NPK analysis (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) than synthetic fertilizers, they are able to feed plants for a longer period of time and have a more lasting impact on the health of your soil.

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We take pride in our renewable, locally sourced fertilizer, and continue to observe the benefits it provides to both farmers and the environment. Want to learn more about your soil health? Get in touch! .

OSU organic amendment.jpgOrganic amendments have many advantages, including their ability to improve soil structure.(Tom Gentle)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.

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.

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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.

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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.Burned eggshells (0-.5-.3), fish emulsion (5-1-1) and urea (urine) (46-0-0) are the fastest-acting organic fertilizers, lasting only a couple of weeks.To boost the nitrogen content of your soils, apply nitrogen-rich urea (42-46 percent N), feathers (15 percent N), blood meal (12.5 percent N), dried blood (12 percent N).Organic amendments highest in phosphorus include rock phosphate (20-33 percent P), bone meal (15-27 percent P) and colloidal phosphate (17-25 percent P).

Here at Schill, we pride ourselves on being one of the most environmentally friendly landscaping companies in Northeast Ohio. Caring for your landscape makes us environmental stewards. That means thinking consciously about how we maintain your property to guarantee we’re not harming your landscape. We do this by working hard to improve the quality of the soil, and not just treating the plant.

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Fertilizer is essential to making sure the plants in your commercial landscape are the healthiest they can be. Unfortunately, in the past the use of synthetic fertilizers alone (sometimes referred to as or just ) hasn’t been the best for long-term health of plants, and have done significant damage to the environment.

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They provide —the chemical compounds plants need in large amounts to thrive—but no . This results in plants that look good, grow fast, and have enhanced colors, but are ultimately less healthy. In that same vein, eating at McDonalds or Burger King every day for a year will keep you alive, but it won’t take very long for your body to feel the effects.

We only need them in very small amounts (micrograms and milligrams), but if we don’t have them our bodies can shut down. Just like vitamin deficiency can lead to diseases like scurvy and rickets in people, the lack of micronutrients can expose plants to a host of diseases. You can also think of synthetic fertilizer like steroids for plants.

While there will be positive effects on some systems of the body (i.e. the muscular system), other systems will be negatively affected (like the digestive system). Similarly, while plants may grow larger when using synthetic fertilizer, the result is often soil that is depleted of nutrients. This will make it difficult for future plants to grow properly in their place.

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When paired with micronutrients, macronutrients provide more balanced nutrition for the plant and the soil. That’s exactly what organic fertilizer allows. Nitrogen is a macronutrient, so plants need it in large amounts. But too much of it can do (and has done) serious damage to the environment. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas that’s three times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Organic fertilizers still utilize nitrogen, but they can use up to half as much as synthetic. This means that more of the nitrogen used is being absorbed by plants and less is lost to the surrounding environment. If you want to know more how nitrogen works in soil, check out this great video from Yara International.

In the past, many incorrectly blamed pollution from factories and urban industries for being the sole cause of the bloom. We now know that the runoff of phosphorous (another macronutrient plants need) is also a significant contributor. Because phosphorous is essential for plant health, organic fertilizers do use it. But the micronutrients used in organic fertilizer allow for a significant reduction of phosphorous compared to regular or synthetic fertilizers.

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For a long time, people automatically assumed that you had to live with weeds and insects if you wanted to go organic. Thankfully, that isn’t the case anymore. As recently as a hundred years ago, Sam says, we solely relied on organic technology. But much of that knowledge was lost with the rise of synthetic fertilizers, which gave greater yields (albeit only in the short term).

And not all organic fertilizers are created equally. Will it improve the quality of your soil or leave it stripped of nutrients? Does it use minimal amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen?Here at Schill, we use an organic-based fertilizer program developed in partnership with Holganix and ATS to be better for plants and the earth.

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The Schill team is excited about the effect that new technology is having on the landscaping industry, and we’re proud to work with companies like Advanced Turf Solutions who are working to disrupt old trends and make the world a greener place. If you’d like more information about how your property can benefit from sustainable practices, take a look at our free book below on Corporate Sustainability and your Bottom Line.

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To get the most out of any organic fertilizer, you need to keep in mind two chemical processes: how plants take up nutrients and how such fertilizers act in the soil — in other words, the where, when, and what of organic fertilization. The bulk of a plant’s feeder roots — whether it’s a mere marigold or a mighty oak — lie just beneath the surface.

Low oxygen levels there retard microbial growth, anyway; that microbial growth is necessary to unlock the nutrients from most organic fertilizers. An exception to that “no need to dig” rule is when phosphorus levels are low, as indicated by a soil test (or stunted plants that are purplish when young or late to ripen).

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Phosphorus moves very slowly in the soil, so the only way to get it quickly into the root zone is to mix it into the top 6 to 12 inches of soil. Once the soil is up to snuff with phosphorus, periodic surface applications of fertilizer can trickle down through the soil fast enough to maintain adequate levels throughout the root zone.



This means you need to account for the time lag between application and nutrient release by spreading organic fertilizers a few weeks before planting. (You can even do it a few months before planting, or way back late last fall.) Because soil microorganisms need time, warmth and moisture to release the nutrients from organic fertilizers, plants may have to wait to eat in dry soil.

Watering not only quenches a plant’s thirst, but also makes food available. You may have to tailor your fertilizer to special conditions. For instance, a spell of unseasonably cool weather in spring slows microbial activity. If you must spur plant growth then, apply a light application of some soluble organic fertilizer whose nutrients are quickly available — blood meal or fish emulsion, for example.

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A quick-acting fertilizer might also be needed when a plant is so hungry that it actually shows symptoms of starvation, such as yellowing, older leaves. Leaves can absorb nutrients directly, and for a really quick effect, you could spray a soluble organic fertilizer such as seaweed extract or fish emulsion right on leaves.

But consider these quick-acting fertilizers as quick fixes only. Build up good reserves of nutrients in your soil, and such applications will be unnecessary. The slow action of organic fertilizers is really a benefit. You only need to apply them once a year and, because heat and warmth spur microbial activity and plant growth, the nutrients are released in sync with plant needs.

The possible exceptions — those hungriest parts of the garden — are vegetable and formal flower beds. I like to feed the ground there with compost, which is an organic material relatively rich in nutrients. Trees and shrubs, informal flowers and wildflowers are less needy. Here, any organic mulch, from wood chips to straw to pine needles, will suffice.

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And it’ll be a much wider spectrum that would be available from any chemical fertilizer. In naturally poor soils (Editor’s note: That would be most soils in Colorado) some additional, more concentrated, nitrogen fertilizer might be needed for a year or more until the soil is up to snuff, or new plants established.

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Fertilizer developed from natural processes A cement reservoir containing cow manure mixed with water. This is common in rural Hainan Province, China. Note the bucket on a stick that the farmer uses to apply the mixture. Organic fertilizers are fertilizers derived from animal matter, animal excreta (manure), human excreta, and vegetable matter (e.g.

Naturally occurring organic fertilizers include animal wastes from meat processing, peat, manure, slurry, and guano. In contrast, the majority of fertilizers used in commercial farming are extracted from minerals (e.g., phosphate rock) or produced industrially (e.g., ammonia). Organic agriculture, a system of farming, allows for certain fertilizers and amendments and disallows others; that is also distinct from this topic.

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By many definitions, minerals are separate from organic materials. However, certain organic fertilizers and amendments are mined, specifically guano and peat. Other mined minerals are fossil products of animal activity, such as greensand (anaerobic marine deposits), some limestones (fossil shell deposits), and some rock phosphates (fossil guano). Peat, a precursor to coal, offers no nutritional value to the plants, but improves the soil by aeration and absorbing water.

Peat is the most widely used organic amendment. Animal sourced materials include both animal manures and residues from the slaughter of animals. Manures are derived from milk-producing dairy animals, egg-producing poultry, and animals raised for meat and hide production. When any animal is butchered, only about 40% to 60% of the live animal is converted to market product, with the remaining 40% to 60% classed as by-products.

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Chicken litter, which consists of chicken manure mixed with sawdust, is an organic fertilizer that has been proposed to be superior for conditioning soil for harvest than synthetic fertilizers. Processed organic fertilizers include compost, humic acid, amino acids, and seaweed extracts. Other examples are natural enzyme-digested proteins. Decomposing crop residue (green manure) from prior years is another source of fertility.

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ARS scientists originally developed the "algal turf scrubber" to reduce nutrient runoff and increase quality of water flowing into streams, rivers, and lakes. They found that this nutrient-rich algae, once dried, can be applied to cucumber and corn seedlings and result in growth comparable to that seen using synthetic fertilizers.

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As a fertilzer it is most commonly used on non-agricultural crops such as in silviculture or in soil remediation. Use of biosolids in agricultural production is less common, and the National Organic Program of the USDA (NOP) has ruled that biosolids are not permitted in organic food production in the U.S.; while biologic in origin (vs mineral), sludge is unacceptable due to toxic metal accumulation, pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other factors.

Decomposing animal manure is an organic fertilizer source ^ Heinrich Dittmar, Manfred Drach, Ralf Vosskamp, Martin E. Trenkel, Reinhold Gutser, Günter Steffens "Fertilizers, 2. Types" in Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, 2009, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.n10_n01 "Researchers Study Value of Chicken Litter in Cotton Production". 23 July 2010. "Algae: A Mean, Green Cleaning Machine".

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7 May 2010. "Organic Farming Agriculture US EPA". Epa.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-09. (PDF). CO State Extension. "Phosphorus Fertilizers for Organic Farming Systems". CO State Extension. "Maintaining Soil Fertility in an Organic Fruit and Vegetable Crops System". University of MN Extension. "Organic Materials as *Nitrogen Fertilizers". CO State Extension.

Organic gardening emphasizes cultivating your garden so that it sustains enriching soil, plants and beneficial insects. This is achieved by avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and using products that nurture your garden soil and the organisms in it. When you embrace the organic gardening philosophy, your plants experience a balanced and nourished ecosystem that works as nature intended.

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Healthy soil leads to healthy plants.1 But when you garden organically, you do much more than nourish your plants. As in nature, an organic soil alive with microbes and fungi releases nutrients slowly to plants. By enriching the soil with organic supplements and encouraging the growth of naturally occurring beneficial organisms, you give your plants the tools they need to access nutrients in the soil and the strength to protect themselves from harmful pathogens and pests.

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This helps make soil borne nutrients, such as iron, more available to plants.2Gypsum is a soil additive that helps to loosen compacted soil and promote root growth while enriching the soil with calcium and sulfur. Gypsum also improves soil structure.3Pennington Fast Acting Gypsum is a mined product but contains a synthetic polymer, so it is not an organic soil conditioner.

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Organic gardening also calls for adding homemade or bagged compost to the soil. This improves the overall soil structure by increasing organic matter, which enhances nutrient release to plants and increases water retention. Adding compost also reduces runoff and erosion, and suppresses certain diseases.1 High-quality organic fertilizers are the products of natural decomposition and are easy for plants to digest.

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It may not have excellent soil structure. Its pH may be too high, or too low. Unless you’ve lucked into the perfect soil, you’re going to have to work to make it ideal for gardening. Here's how to get started. (If you're not sure what kind of soil you have, start with these .) Many organic materials serve as both fertilizers and soil conditioners—they feed both soils and plants.

Soluble chemical fertilizers contain mineral salts that plant roots can absorb quickly. However, these salts do not provide a food source for soil microorganisms and , and they will even repel earthworms because they acidify the soil. Over time, soils treated only with synthetic chemical fertilizers lose organic matter and the all-important living organisms that help to build a quality soil.

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In turn, it will take ever-increasing amounts of chemicals to stimulate plant growth. When you use organic fertilizers, you avoid throwing your soil into this kind of crisis condition. (Already ruined your earth? Here are .) wihteorchid/Getty What's more, the manufacturing process of most chemical fertilizers depends on nonrenewable resources, such as coal and natural gas.

Fortunately, there are more and more truly organic fertilizers coming on the market. These products are made from natural plant and animal materials or from mined rock minerals. However, the national standards that define and distinguish organic fertilizers from chemical fertilizers are complicated, so it’s hard to be sure that a commercial fertilizer product labeled “organic” truly contains only safe, natural ingredients.

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Ask a reputable garden center owner to recommend fertilizer brands that meet organic standards, or go the DIY route and .If you’re a gardener who’s making the switch from chemical to organic fertilizers, you may be afraid that using organic materials will be more complicated and less convenient than using premixed chemical fertilizers.

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You don’t need to custom feed your plants organically unless it’s an activity you enjoy. So while some experts will spread a little blood meal around their tomatoes at planting, and then some bonemeal just when the blossoms are about to pop, most gardeners will be satisfied to make one or two applications of general-purpose organic fertilizer throughout the garden.Convenient products like dehydrated organic cow manure pellets, liquid seaweed, and fish emulsion make it easy to fertilize houseplants and containers, too.

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Save it for your outdoor containers and garden plants.)If you want to try a plant-specific approach to fertilizing, you can use a variety of specialty organic fertilizers, such as mixes designed for , , transplants, lawns, heavy bloom production, and even . You can also make custom mixes to address your plants’ specific needs.

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Bonemeal is a good source of phosphorus, and kelp or greensand are organic sources of potassium.Dry organic fertilizers can consist of a single material, such as rock phosphate or kelp (a type of nutrient-rich seaweed), or they can be a blend of many ingredients. Almost all organic fertilizers provide a broad array of nutrients, but blends are specially formulated to provide balanced amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as micronutrients.

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(Here's what you need to know about .) The most common way to apply dry fertilizer is to broadcast it and then hoe or rake it into the top 4 to 6 inches of soil. You can add small amounts to planting holes or rows as you plant seeds or transplants.

During the growing season, boost plant growth by side-dressing dry fertilizers in crop rows or around the drip line of trees or shrubs. It’s best to work side-dressings into the top inch of the soil. lutavia/Getty Plants can absorb liquid fertilizers through both their roots and through leaf pores. Foliar feeding (that's through the leaves) can supply nutrients when they are lacking or unavailable in the soil, or when roots are stressed.

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Some foliar fertilizers, such as liquid seaweed (kelp), are rich in micronutrients and growth hormones. These foliar sprays also appear to act as catalysts, increasing nutrient uptake by plants. and seaweed extract are two common examples of organic foliar fertilizers.Use liquid fertilizers to give your plants a light nutrient boost or snack every month or even every two weeks during the growing season.

For leaf crops, some suppliers recommend biweekly spraying. When using liquid fertilizers, always follow label instructions for proper dilution and application methods. You can use a surfactant, such as coconut oil or a mild soap (¼ teaspoon per gallon of spray), to ensure better coverage of the leaves. Otherwise, the spray may bead up on the foliage and you won’t get the maximum benefit.

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Choose a day when no rain is forecast and temperatures aren’t extreme. Spray until the liquid drips off the leaves. Concentrate the spray on leaf undersides, where leaf pores are more likely to be open. You can also water in liquid fertilizers around the root zone. A drip irrigation system can carry liquid fertilizers to your plants.

Growth enhancers are materials that help plants absorb nutrients more effectively from the soil. The most common growth enhancer is kelp (a type of seaweed), which has been used by farmers for centuries. Kelp is sold as a dried meal or as an extract of the meal in liquid or powdered form.

It also contains growth-promoting hormones and enzymes.To apply, follow the directions for spraying liquid fertilizers when applying growth enhancers as a foliar spray. You can also apply kelp extract or meal directly to the soil; soil application will stimulate soil bacteria, which in turn increases fertility through humus formation, aeration, and moisture retention.

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Or, if you can get your hands on fresh seaweed, rinse it to remove the sea salt and spread it over the soil surface in your garden as a mulch, or compost it. Seaweed decays readily because it contains little cellulose. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

for the garden comes from cow, sheep, poultry and horses. Pretty self-explanatory. Manure is known as a “complete” fertilizer; it has a lot of organic matter, but is low in nutrients. Manures are most valuable as organic soil amendments and mulches. Note: Beware of using fresh manure as a fertilizer because it can burn plants.

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It’s such a rich source of nitrogen that gardeners have to be careful not to over-apply and burn the roots of their plants. Apply blood meal just before planting to stimulate green leafy growth. is finely ground bone. A by-product from animal slaughterhouses, it is a great source of calcium and contains up to 15% phosphate.

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It is often used when growing flowers, bulbs and fruit trees. is protected by caves from leaching, so nutrients are conserved. It is rich in soluble nitrogen, phosphorous and trace elements. Usually powdery, bat guano may be used any time of year as a top dressing or diluted in a tea and used as a foliar spray.

Ideal for organic gardening, it is most effectively used at the root zone to heighten flower and root development. Amend your soil, use as a top dressing or create an “organic tea” and apply directly to plant roots. Eco-friendly harvesting from centuries-old cave deposits. South American seabird guano is among the world’s best.

As a result, seabird guano is very high in nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients. At , we offer all kinds of garden supplies, including guanos, which provide plant nutrients in a natural form. or shell meal is made from crushed bones or shells from crab or other shellfish. It is a great source of calcium in addition to phosphorus and many trace minerals.

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is a calcium or lime-based phosphate rock that is usually ground to the consistency of small crumbs. This rock powder contains over 30% phosphate and a large number of trace elements. Rock phosphate does not leach out of the soil, remaining unchanged until taken up by the roots. is an iron potassium silicate that gives the minerals in which it occurs a green tint.

is a partially decomposed blend of finely pulverized fish. It can smell, although some deodorized versions have been developed. Like blood meal, it should be used sparingly in order not to burn plant roots. If all of those are organic fertilizer, you’re probably wondering what makes for an inorganic fertilizer.

There are advantages and disadvantages to organic and inorganic fertilizers. The major benefit of organic fertilizers is that they work slowly. They need to be broken down by soil organisms in order for their nutrients to be released and that takes time. Because they work slowly, nothing is wasted. They are consumed as they are released, unlike chemical fertilizers, which are released immediately into the soil.

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They’re reporting bigger crops, increased sugars and better blooms. OMRI Listed for use in organic production. Organic fertilizers carry some other perks. Because they contain organic material, they improve the soil’s structure or its “workability.” Soil that’s been fertilized with organic matter is easier to work and allows more air to get to plant roots.

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Inorganic fertilizers work fast, which can be a boon or a bane depending on your garden’s needs. Another disadvantage of inorganic fertilizer is that over watering or rain can push the chemicals beneath roots where they won’t do any good. Inorganic fertilizers, because they are so rich, can easily “burn” roots or create a toxic concentration of salts if over-applied.

Your zucchini plant doesn’t care if the nitrogen it’s feeding on came from a compost pile or a test tube. To ensure proper use, first figure out what your plants’ nutrient needs are. This is based on soil conditions, previous fertilizers used and the type of plants that you are growing.

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A soil test can cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per sample and should be done every two to three years. (Any time you encounter problems is also a good time to have the soil retested.) At we offer a simple, yet accurate soil test kit that uses a “color comparator” and capsule system for under $20.00.

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It will include nutrient recommendations for material that needs to be added. For example, if the report says your soil is low on potassium, it will recommend that you add two pounds of potassium per 1,000 square feet. The features a “color comparator” and capsule system that’s designed for simplicity of use with accurate results.



Also, know the labeling system that the industry has standardized on. Each label will list N-P-K numbers and in that order. The N stands for nitrogen, the P for phosphorus and the K for potassium. An organic fertilizer will generally have an NPK ratio that adds up to less than 15 and with no individual number greater than thirteen.

A “6-12-0” fertilizer contains 6 percent nitrogen, 12 percent phosphate and 0 percent potash. A hundred pound bag of this material would contain six pounds of nitrogen (100 x .96), 12 pounds of phosphate (11 x .12) and no potash. Lower numbers do not mean low grade. In the case of organic fertilizers it just means that the nutrients aren’t immediately available, but are released slowly over time.

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The “more must be better” philosophy is alive and well in the industry…but does a lawn really require a fertilizer that consists of 60% nitrogen? Fertilizers with ingredient lines that include words like ammonium, muriate, urea, nitrate, phosphoric, or super phosphate usually are chemical-based rather than an organic fertilizer. Whatever fertilizer you buy, follow the application instructions including how much to apply, when and where.

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For a better understanding of this see . Plants need the small molecules in order to grow. One of the key nutrients, besides water, is nitrogen and plants usually get nitrogen in the form of a nitrate molecule. grow organic vegetables. Let’s look at nitrate molecules in more detail. What is the difference between a nitrate molecule from a synthetic fertilizer and an organic fertilizer? The pictures below shows the two molecules.

A nitrate molecule from either source is exactly the same. More importantly plants can’t tell the difference either. I’ll repeat the last sentence since it is one of the biggest gardening myths. There is absolutely no difference between a nitrate molecule from a synthetic source and a nitrate molecule from an organic source.

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How can they be the same when organic is so much better?? The fact is that when it comes to providing nutrients for the plants, organic is NOT better. It is exactly the same as a synthetic source. From a strictly chemical nutrient point of view organic is not better, nor is it worse than synthetic.

However we can look at things from a different perspective and then we will find that organic is better- see , for more details.

A prized source of plant nutrition, guanos are ideal for fruiting and flowering plants. Gentle, effective formulas that are safe for young seedlings and tender transplants. Encourage lush growth and beautiful blooms with our large selection. The quick, effective way to nourish established plants in pots or in your garden! .

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Quick Navigation If your plants keep dropping leaves, turning odd colors, and generally failing to thrive, it might not be your gardening techniques that are at fault. There could be an imbalance in your soil that’s killing your plants. In such instances, improving your soil might simultaneously improve your chances at having a successful garden.

Too much of a good thing can easily be as bad as a hands-off approach. For instance, phosphorus, which is a main component of most fertilizers, will only work at a certain pH range. Adding unnecessary nutrients can also cause environmental problems since these compounds tend to get washed away in heavy rains and can end up polluting nearby waterways.

These elements are normally present in the soil. When they are not, the plants suffer. Fertilizers were created to make up any soil deficiencies so that things can be grown in less than ideal spaces. However, the main nutrients found in fertilizer are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).

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Of course your plants don’t know the difference between synthetic and organic fertilizers but you will, particularly in the long run. Synthetic fertilizers are known to degrade the quality of soil over time. You constantly need more to improve your garden. Synthetic fertilizers also contain salts. These compounds not only make the soil more acidic, they keep beneficial earthworms away.

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These types of fertilizers even tend to be less likely to burn tender plant roots than synthetic products. The slow working nature of organic fertilizers is beneficial if you’re looking to improve your garden soil over time. This aspect can nonetheless be a downside if you’re looking for instant results.

This means that their components can change over time and may slightly vary with each batch. You do need to be careful when it comes to purchasing fertilizer. Those products stating they are ‘organic’ at first glance might not actually be. Make sure you read product labels carefully. A good way to judge claims for accuracy is to check the organic fertilizer you plan on buying against the Organic Materials Review Institute’s list.

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Exactly what it says on the tin, dry fertilizers are often mixed into the soil. They can be used on both in-ground gardens and container-grown plants. These types of fertilizers are generally added as a way of encouraging long-term growth in seedlings, transplants, and crops. Obviously, these fertilizers are nutrients in liquid form.

These fertilizers might be poured onto the soil surrounding the plant so that they can be absorbed roots. Or they could be sprayed on the leaves instead. After all, foliar (leaf) sprays are particularly useful for vegetables during their growing season. Liquid fertilizers are generally considered good for plants that are actively growing and should usually be applied on a monthly basis.

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While they aren’t fertilizers per se, these substances help plants absorb nutrients that they receive from elsewhere. Some of them, such as kelp, are also a great source of trace elements. However, paying for these elements to be included in your fertilizer can be a waste of money since healthy soil should already contain helpful substances such as microbes, enzymes, and humic acids.

If you are buying premade supplies, the process is fairly simple. Read the instructions on the box and err on the side of caution when you’re deciding how much to apply. (Hint: it’s always a good idea to avoid using strong smelling products like fish emulsion fertilizer indoors.) However, if you want to mix up your own fertilizer for a specific garden need that you have, you can certainly do that as well.

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Alfalfa is commonly used as part of livestock feed. However, alfalfa meal is simply ground up so that it breaks down faster. This particular fertilizer has low amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. As a result, alfalfa meal works at moderate rate of speed. The best use for this fertilizer is as a soil conditioner in the early spring prior to planting crops.

The downsides to cottonseed meal are that it works slowly and that it is available primarily in cotton growing areas. However, this fertilizer is particularly useful for conditioning gardens in the fall before cover crops are planted or before mulch is applied. This gives the cotton seed meal time to break down fully so that the nitrogen present is readily available in the spring.

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It is also good soil stabilizer but it works slowly. Therefore, you should add it in the fall so that it has time to break down over the winter. Rock phosphate is made from rocks that have been ground up. It contains large amounts of phosphate as well as other essential nutrients.



Instead, they hang around in the soil until they’re used by the plants that are growing there. Manure in general has a high mass to nutrients ratio. It nonetheless contains respectable amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Cow manure also works on gardens at a moderate rate of speed. These elements all help to make it an excellent compost additive.

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You should also avoid manure leftover from industrial operations because it contains lots of salt. However, even regular manure can end up burning plants if too much is used or if it’s used too often. Having a lot of poultry crap on hand doesn’t mean that you’ll get comparatively high nutrient levels.

It’s also works in a somewhat faster fashion. The best time to use poultry manure is just after harvesting your crops or just before you begin another gardening cycle. As is the case with cow manure, you’ll want to be careful with this product because it can burn your plants if too much is applied.

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As a result, this type of fertilizer is considered a great addition to flower and vegetable gardens. Greensand comes from ancient sea beds. This high calcium fertilizer also contains iron, potassium, and other trace elements. However, the nutrient levels in greensand products can vary depending on their source. Compost’s nutrient profile varies based on what is put into but it is often close to that of cow manure.

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This process increases fermentation rate and reduces the time needed for achieving maximal primary production in the ponds, compared with dry manure. However, fermentation may reduce nitrogen content of the manure and in turn would reduce its potential effectiveness.Animal manures are also better applied in tilapia ponds in fine particulate or colloidal state.

In this regard, buffalo manure has not been recommended as a major organic fertilizer in tilapia ponds, as it causes a reduction in DO, due to the respiratory demand of the bacteria (Edwards et al., 1994b). The presence of tannin in buffalo manure stains pond water brown, which reduces light penetration and in turn inhibits phytoplankton productivity.

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Shevgoor et al. (1994) reported that only 6% of buffalo manure nitrogen was released as dissolved nitrogen and 35% of total P was released as soluble reactive P. Fertilization rate higher than 100 kg dry matter (DM) ha−1 per day caused water quality deterioration, high suspended solids and reduced light penetration and phytoplankton production.

Therefore, buffalo manure rate should not exceed 50 kg ha−1 per day (Edwards et al., 1994a). It is also recommended that buffalo manure be supplemented with urea (Edwards et al., 1996).On the other hand, poultry manure is a better source of manure in tilapia ponds than that of large ruminants as it has a higher N (and P) content.

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It is also characterized by small-size particles and better C:N ratio (about 10:1) and also by its solubility in water. Generally speaking, a fertilizing rate of



(1989) compared the effects of chicken manure, dairy cow manure and inorganic fertilizer on the production of male Nile tilapia. They found that chicken litter produced the best net fish production (see details in Table 5.1). Similar results have also been reported by Green et al. (1990, 2002); Green (1992).

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Moreover, it has been suggested that diel oxygen stratification is more pronounced in inorganically fertilized ponds, presumably due to the greater water clarity and the more even distribution of primary production in organically fertilized ponds (Diana et al., 1991).In contrast, Ledgerwood et al. (1978) found that chicken manure was not a very effective fertilizer in blue tilapia ponds in El-Salvador, and the addition of inorganic P (but not N) increased fish yields.

(1993) found that the addition of urea and triple superphosphate (TSP) into Nile tilapia ponds increased N and P inputs in the ponds and improved primary productivity, while the addition of chicken manure to these inorganic fertilizers did not enhance fish yield. The effectiveness of chicken manure-P was only 10% of TSP-P.

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Indeed, the types and quantities of nutrients required and the relative amounts of fertilizers needed to provide such nutrients are varying, depending on the type of fertilizer used, nutrient contents of the water, types of bottom soil, water quality, environmental climatic conditions and geographical location. Read more. This means that the effectiveness of certain fertilizer is probably site-specific, and fertilizer requirements should be evaluated on a farm-by-farm basis, and even on a pond-by-pond basis.It has been assumed that supplemental and complete processed feeds are better-quality inputs than organic fertilizers in semi-intensive fish ponds.

(2006) who explored the trophic structure in organically fertilized and feed-supplied Nile tilapia ponds using multivariate analyses. The fish (18 g) were fed 25% crude protein (cp) floating pellets, fertilized with chicken manure or with partially composted field grass. Average tilapia weights at harvest were much higher in chicken manure-fertilized ponds (252 g) than in pellet-fed (174 g) and grass-fertilized (172 g) ponds, while the net yield was higher in pellet-fed ponds, due to their higher stocking density.

What Does Deciding What Types Of Fertilizer To Use In Your Garden Do?

If you read a number of web sites, especially organic gardening ones, you quickly realize that there are two basic kinds of fertilizer. There is the ‘synthetic fertilizer’ which you buy in bags (grow organic vegetables). This fertilizer is clearly BAD! Then there is the good stuff; organic fertilizer. What is the real difference between organic fertilizer and synthetic fertilizer? Is there a difference? The answer may surprise you.

From a gardeners perspective, fertilizer may contain NPK and minor nutrients (sulfur, magnesium, iron etc). The NPK number is a short form for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Synthetic fertilizer is also called inorganic fertilizer or commercial fertilizer to differentiate it from organic fertilizer. This fertilizer is either mined from the ground or synthesized by man.

Robert Davis

Robert Davis

What started as a personal experience to improve my overall health by growing my own food has turned into a mission to share my experience and my own research. Growing your own food and eating healthier food is something that everyone has to try.

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