Gardening can be a beautiful experience and there is no better joy than that which you get from seeing your produce grow and flourish. Fertilization is also important in the long-term growth of your plants and the health of your soil.
The fertilizers you may use come from various sources that may be either man-made or natural. Both categories have an impact on the environment. You may be asking questions, such as “What is the difference?” or “Which is better?” Well, this should answer all your questions.
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What Is Synthetic Fertilizer?
Synthetic fertilizer is famous for being a fast-acting water-soluble agent. Plants absorb it immediately after it touches the soil. The fertilizer comes in several forms, including pellets, spike, liquid, and granule.
It provides a burst of nutrients and rapid greening to the said plants. With this type of fertilizer, you must reapply it regularly for the best results. This attribute is why it is often viewed as a short-term solution in a context that typically requires a long-term one.
While synthetic fertilizer provides the plant with a quick hit, it does very little to stimulate the soil the plant is rooted in where improving fertility or texture is concerned.
Additionally, you risk burning your plants and lawn in having to reapply it all the time. That effect comes from its being derived from the petroleum industry. You do not need to know much more than that to understand the effect it often has on plants.
What is Organic Fertilizer?
Organic fertilizer comes from organic sources and has many benefits to both the soil and the plant. When used correctly, you can expect it to yield results and not damage. This type of fertilizer stimulates the natural microorganisms in the soil and improves the soil structure.
It is made up of a mixture of animal waste, plant waste, biosolids, and other minerals. The name “organic” does not come from the processing method or a lack of significant processing. Instead, it is a reference to the ingredients that up the fertilizer.
Organic fertilizers also provide some micro and secondary nutrients that are missing from synthetic fertilizers. The reason why organic fertilizer seems to assimilate so well into the plant growing equation is its origins from the byproducts of various living organisms.
Pros and Cons
It is not time to look at the pros and cons of both fertilizers to see how much trouble the upsides and how much trouble you may put yourself through when buying either.
The pros of synthetic fertilizer are as follows:
- It has fast-acting chemicals in it.
- Synthetic fertilizer has specific nutrient ratios.
- It is much less expensive than the other forms.
- Synthetic fertilizers are commonly used, readily available, and can be found in greater amounts.
- It is easily applied to large areas of the garden.
- You can see results in one to two weeks of application.
- It is most ideal for high-profile areas of the property, such as lawns.
While the pros are great, they only tell one side of the story. Here are the cons that tell the other:
- Synthetic fertilizer may find itself in other areas that it should not. You need to pay attention to the kind of water runoff in the area.
- It has the potential to deplete the nutrients that already exist in the soil.
- This alternative requires multiple and repeated applications.
- It is made from products that were chemically processed. Sometimes the processing is very heavy.
- With synthetic fertilizer, there may be a high possibility of a buildup of toxic chemicals all over the soil.
- Synthetic fertilizer is a short-term fix to a long-term need.
Here are the pros of choosing to go the organic route:
- It is a natural product and requires minimal processing.
- The composition includes unprocessed, natural ingredients such as manure, kelp meal, aged poultry, and cornmeal.
- It improves the soil’s ability to hold water.
- It is environmentally friendly and can be used around pets and children.
- It enriches the soil and the plant.
- Organic fertilizers can help correct the imbalances in the soil.
- There is only a minute possibility of over-fertilizing the plants or crops.
- It is biodegradable renewable, and sustainable.
It is time to look at the cons. Even on the organic side of things, there are downsides that you need to consider. These are:
- It requires much more labor to apply to the soil.
- This is a more expensive alternative than its synthetic counterparts.
- The nutrients are released very slowly.
- It can cause excess top growth and even stress the roots of the plants.
- It requires more moisture and warmth to work than synthetic fertilizers do.
- It is limited by weather and best used in the late spring through to early fall.
- A balanced nutrient ratio is not always guaranteed.
What Fertilizer Should You Choose?
If you are looking for a general answer to this question, one does not exist. Choosing a fertilizer is one of those things that requires evaluating your unique situation and needs before making a choice.
As you can see from the information above, there are benefits and drawbacks whether you decide to go the natural or the synthetic route. So, what do you look out for then?
On the organic side of the spectrum, you typically want to use it in contexts where going the synthetic route would present danger or a huge inconvenience to either plant, human, or animal life.
For example, some people grow food in areas where children are pets may be playing around.
In such a case, you do not want them to be encountering and being harmed by synthetic fertilizers.
Of course, the said harm would come from the chemical processing style that is typically associated with this fertilizer choice.
Additionally, if the fertilizer is for the growth of food, you do not want to go the synthetic route. Apart from the potential harm to the people who may be consuming the crops after reaping time, there is a quality advantage to going organic.
Food plants that are exposed to potentially toxic chemicals are almost automatically not going to be of the best quality. Whether it is for the sake of revenue or just being ethical about the whole thing, you never want to skimp on quality as you grow food.
As you can see from the contexts in which organic fertilizers were better, food or high traffic areas tend to be at the center of the selection. By that logic, you can deduce that once food plans are not involved and it is a low-traffic area, there is nothing wrong with going synthetic.
Naturally, you must verify that whatever plant types you want to apply the fertilizer to can withstand the chemical composition and thrive once the said fertilizer is applied. Front lawns give the perfect example of the kind of low-traffic area that a synthetic fertilizer works for.
Other high-profile areas can also benefit from going this route, especially when rapid results are needed. Remember that you can often see results in no more than two weeks of application.
You also want to pay attention to the amount of water runoff that is present in the area that you are fertilizing. Since synthetic fertilizer can be rapidly absorbed, it can also be rapidly transported.
Therefore, any significant amount of water runoff could be incredibly counter-intuitive to your efforts. You do not want to put yourself in a situation where you must be consistently applying fertilizer as the growing season progresses.
You already must think about multiple and repeated applications when using the synthetic alternative, so why would you want to make that any worse?
As far as fertilizers are concerned, you can choose between synthetic and organic variants. While synthetic fertilizers are inexpensive and provide a quick nutrient burst, organic fertilizers offer a long-term fix and allow you to worry less about negatively impacting the environment.
If you want a stronger, healthier, and thriving garden or vegetation, you need to decide which route to go based on where the plants are, what they are for, and what they can accommodate.
Why would you want toxic chemicals to harm your tomatoes when they can turn out big and juicy with no environmental disadvantages?
Ensure you understand the benefits and implications of your fertilizer choices, so you can make the most informed of decisions. Once you take that approach, it is going to be very hard for you to go wrong.