Fertilizers provide important nutrients for the overall health of your plants, and there are two main types to consider when choosing a fertilizer for your site.
Organic fertilizers are typically made from plant compost or manures and other natural ingredients with minimal processing. On the other hand, synthetic fertilizers are created using manufactured or processed nutrients and ingredients blended in precise ratios.
Both organic and synthetic fertilizers add nutrients to the soil, but have some very different advantages and disadvantages you may want to consider.
Synthetic fertilizer facts
First, synthetic fertilizers typically offer more precise nutrient blends for various plant needs and uses than you’ll get with organic fertilizer.
Synthetic fertilizers can contain acidic ingredients, which over time can dissolve and cause compaction of the soil. Compacted soil prevents water from entering the soil properly, preventing plants from receiving adequate water.
Soil compaction can also cause fertilizer and soil runoff into nearby reservoirs and streams, contributing to negative effects in the environment. When using synthetic fertilizers, you may need to aerate the soil or take other steps to reduce compaction.
The acids that synthetic fertilizer contain also affect the pH level of the soil. Improperly balanced pH levels negatively affect the overall soil health, potentially killing the beneficial microorganisms that help with natural immunity to infectious diseases.
Many synthetic fertilizers provide a fast release of nutrients into the soil, which provides fast growth or green color, but can also make it easy to over-fertilize plants. High, quick doses of nitrogen can specifically contribute to fast plant growth more susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases—using a slow-release fertilizer can prevent this.
Organic fertilizer pros and cons
The organic materials in organic fertilizer can help prevent soil runoff and retain moisture in the soil.
Organic fertilizers also can include and benefit microorganisms in the soil, improving the overall condition of the soil and preventing plant disease.
Seeing results from organic fertilizers however may take more time, especially in nutrient depleted soils.
Be aware too, microorganisms that break down organic material and release nutrients into the soil need warmth and moisture and may only show results later in the season.
If you are interested in learning more about organic fertilizers or synthetic fertilizer options, or a hybrid/bridge fertilizer program using both, call or visit your local Ewing to learn about fertilizer options in your area.