What is the difference between organic garden fertilizers and synthetic fertilizers?
Organic garden fertilizers usually come from live materials like plants and animals, and non-live but organic elements like rocks and minerals. They normally have a wide range of nutrients and trace elements, and they provide additional organic matter that enhances the soil ecosystem.
Most organic garden fertilizers provide a slow, steady supply of nutrients, which is better in the long-run as nutrients are provided as the plants need them. They are made up of complex molecules that do not easily dissolve in water and nutrients are released through an ongoing action of the soil microbes. Hence, they provide nutrients to the plants consistently and for a considerably longer period. There are also some fast-release organic fertilizers like liquid seaweed and fish emulsions that readily provide nutrients to plants that need instant boost.
Synthetic fertilizers on the other hand, are chemically prepared concoctions that often contain three important elements: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) or NPK. But these types of fertilizers do not contain organic matter and don’t do anything to nourish the soil.
They often provide fast-release nutrients that can be used by plants immediately after application. The problem however, is that plants may not be able to use all the nutrients right away. Synthetic fertilizers are highly soluble and the excess can easily find their way to nearby bodies of water like rivers, streams and lakes, and cause pollution. Some manufacturers are coming up with slow-release formulas, but still, they only provide NPK and do not improve the health of the soil at all. Most synthetic fertilizers are made from mineral salts and if not used correctly, can burn young roots of seedlings and kill soil microbes responsible for releasing natural soil nutrients and making them available to plants.
Generally, using organic garden fertilizer is the safer and gentler way of supplementing nutrients to both the plants and the soil. It mimics nature’s process of nurturing the plants by giving nutrients as and when they are needed. It nourishes the soil and improves the soil microactivity and it does not have harmful and adverse effects to the environment. Still some argues that organic fertilizers are more expensive than their synthetic counterpart. But if you look at the larger picture and factor in all the benefits of using organic garden fertilizers, it will come out as the cheaper and better option.
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There are scientific studies conducted that proved how synthetic fertilizers can cause harmful effects not just on plants but on humans who consume them as well. While organic fertilizers always remain safe and highly recommended.