Organic Fertilizer vs. Chemical Fertilizer: What You Need to Know
When it comes to fertilizer, there are a lot of options.
That’s because the quality of soil plays a crucial role in the success of lawns, gardens or crops. The use of “all-natural” vs. synthetic fertilizer has been an ongoing debate among growers, farmers, and lawn-care specialists for a long time. As technology and science have progressed the types of fertilization available, so have the techniques and best practices to get the most ideal results.
Non-Synthetic (Natural) Fertilizers
At Green Wing Services, we prefer to predominately use organic fertilizers rather than synthetic. Part of our core mission at Green Wing is to ensure Floridians do not have to battle between environmental consciousness and a beautiful lawn. We uphold this value by abiding by the strictest nutrient pollution reduction criteria, including best practices related to fertilization and pesticides. That’s why we choose to use organic fertilizers as often as we can for our lawn control services unless certain circumstances require otherwise.
Natural Fertilizer Advantages
Natural (organic) fertilizers are by nature slow-release food; they take time to break down and enrich the soil with macronutrients. According to Ecogardner.com, “Unlike chemical fertilizer, organic (all-natural) fertilizer is minimally processed to retain its “natural” form. Generally, organic fertilizers are made from plant and/or animal wastes as well as powdered minerals.” All things that are made naturally on earth.
Commercial growers often use synthetic fertilizer because it speeds up the growth process of their crop. However, overuse of synthetic fertilizers over time can deplete soils of natural microorganisms and nutrients. Generally, chemical fertilizers are made synthetically from inorganic materials including petroleum products and rocks.
Here are the Major Pros and Cons of Organic vs. Synthetic Fertilizer:
Pros and Cons of Organic Fertilizer
- Better water retention. These fertilizers improve the soil structure of the plants which means better infiltration and water-holding capacity.
- No toxin buildup. These products do not release harmful chemicals or salts that are deadly to plants.
- Fosters a sustainable ecosystem for plants and organisms alike and improves plant structure. The rich nutrients keep the soil fertile and support an increase in earthworm and microorganism activity in the soil– both of which improve soil organic matter, content, and structure.
- Can break down contaminants. By slowly releasing nutrients into the soil, the plants could absorb all the nutrients they need to grow without stressing out or over-fertilizing the crops.
- The results can be slow. Organic fertilizers have to break down into the soil first before you can see the results. It’s not unusual to see the results within a few months after the first application has broken down completely.
- Natural fertilizers can be messy and difficult to apply precisely. That’s why you hire Green Wing so you don’t have to worry about it!
- The number of nutrients and microorganisms in the soil can vary. This is a result of the natural creation process.
Synthetic Fertilizer Advantages and Disadvantages
- Faster acting. They’re faster acting than organic making them a good choice for aiding plants in severe distress from nutrient deficiencies.
- Easy to handle. These fertilizers, which come as dry, granular pellets or water-soluble products, also provide even, consistent feeding.
- Inexpensive. Synthetic fertilizers are much cheaper than all-natural. (Note, however, that while inorganic fertilizer is cheaper in the short term, it adds less to the soil in the long term.)
- The majority don’t contain micronutrient organisms. The rapid release of nutrients may leach them deeply into the soil and water table where plants can’t access them.
- Can easily be over-applied. Heavy applications can burn your plants and build up to toxic salt concentrations in the soil which makes it unlivable for most plants.
- Can release nutrients too quickly or too slowly. This results in an unnatural balance of growth.
Hope this helps provide some clarity around why we use organic vs. synthetic fertilizers.
Your bug guy,
P.S. We work with Keep Brevard Beautiful to help homeowners earn the Lagoon Friendly Lawns certification. We also work with the MRC’s Indian River Lagoon Green Business Program to address good environmental practices related to conservation of water, prevention of non-point source pollution, reduction and disposal of waste, and reduction in energy use to reduce the impact of climate change.
Take Lagoon Loyal’s “What’s your Footprint?” quiz and earn a coupon for your next Green Wing Services lawn treatment!