Organic vs Chemical fertilizers

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by Jamey, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. Jamey

    Jamey Member

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    We are fairly new gardeners and are looking for a fertilizer for our plants. Our garden is diverse with shady areas; Hostas, ferns and Japanese maples. Then we have rock gardens with; grasses, heathers, suculents and sun loving shrubs. Into this mix we have trees and a monster Gunera. I have been growing cactus inder light this winter and have recently moved to an organic fertilizer which I purchased at the Hydro store. With in days of feeding my Jades have sprunge to life. This fertilizer has low numbers that most organics do. So my second Question is, do plants metabolize organic fertilizers better then chemical, and there for grow better despite the lower numbers
     
  2. dgetlin1

    dgetlin1 Member

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    hello....maybe someone can tell me...........in organic fertilizer, are there ANY chemicals.....seems to me, just the name organic allows me to believe they are devoid of chemical elements...........thanks..........dg
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The main difference is that organic fertilisers contain organic matter (i.e., partially decomposed plant parts, etc.), which helps improve soil structure (mainly by encouraging worms and other soil creatures), and thereby makes rooting conditions for plants better as well as supplying chemical elements for growth.
     
  4. alabama

    alabama Active Member

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    It is my understanding that chemical (inorganic fertilizers) are mainly salts. Sometimes for a quick pick me up chemical fertilizers are very good. But if you think about it in the long term, organics (compost) are composed of decayed plant materials. Many of the trace elements that may not be in an over the counter fertilizer will most likely be present in compost. But when plant material decomposes it serves me well to add a little nitrogen (chemical) to my compost pile because as plant material decays it uses nitrogen as it decomposes. Once the plant material is composted the nitrogen is available to the plants. As Micheal F. said' compost, manures,and organic matter improves the structure of any soil. It loosens clay soils, it helps sandy soils hold water and it won't burn your plants. I like my soil to be "light and fluffy" and only organic matter can do that.
     
  5. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Ulitimately, all fertilizers are chemicals. The primary nutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium are chemicals (elements actually) and are provided as chemical salts. At a plant consumption level, these nutrients are taken in as chemicals regardless of the type of delivery.

    The perceived advantages of organic fertilizers vs. chemical fertilizers are
    - timed release...most organic fertilizers have 'locked-up' the nutrients in organic compounds that require further decomposition to release. It's not always true though. Urine, though organic, is not timed release & there are options for timed release chemical fertilizers
    - supplied with organic matter for improved soil composition. Yes, but not always. Blood meal, Bone meal, fish emulsion, urine, etc., don't enhance soil composition, like compost or manure do.
    - biggest perceived advantage for me is the smaller environmental footprint. Presumably the organic fertilizers are a byproduct of an organic process and require minimal further processing (& resource consumption) to make usable. Chemical fertilizers usually require mining (potash) or some sort of chemical process. One might argue though, that agricultural processes such as cattle ranching, or hog farming, use a huge amount of resources, including chemical fertilizers used for growing their feed.
    - soil nutrient levels...inorganic or chemical fertilizers tend to boost the soil fertility immediately to levels that can be damaging to soil microbes and soil ecology while organic fertilizers 'lock-up' the nutrients and provide incentive (food) to the soil microbes. See my note on timed release though, it applies here as well.

    So, it's not very clear cut, is it?

    Simon
     
  6. alex66

    alex66 Rising Contributor Maple Society 10 Years

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    one good chimical is better for me (ex. Nitroposka blu special by Compo have "Boro" too +2)organic is good for planted new plants direct in the hole .organic have some problems:contain many Azoto more insects on the leaves in spring,bad smell for two week,bad herb in soil,if you loading in your car the smell remain for one week!and the cow or hourse not eat food like 20/30 years ago!!last is not good for every plant,one complete chimical yes!
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    They do a little bit. They contain carbon compounds which are digestible by soil fauna (including worms), so will increase soil fauna populations and therefore also improve soil structure a bit. But agreed, not as much as compost does.
     
  8. dgetlin1

    dgetlin1 Member

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    thanks to all you good guys who answered..........actually, then, the only true organic amendment, or fertilizer is compost which is made from brown and green stuff. anything bought, and in a bag, could have some sort of chemical in it.

    no big deal,but if i'm going to do my lawn organically, might as well go as close to organic as is possible..........thanks, so much, everyone...............dg
     
  9. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    To fertilize with organic or commercial fertilizers is really dependent on the condition of the soil. Sandy soil will hold little nutriment and tend to leach out chemicals and on the other hand clay based soils hold nutriments but make it hard for roots to access them. A good loam is the best for holding nutriment and supplying a good growing medium for most plant to grow in. From my expirience it best to prepare the area well before planting and gauge this to the type of plant requirements. All plants are adapted to certain soils, some more than others. If you meet these requirements there should be little need to add a lot of fertilizers other than an even amount of the basics NPK at say 6-6-6,note read the instruction for amounts. If your adding organic material of a varied consistency once a year thats probably all you will need other than the occational boost from a bagged fertilizer.
    I'll to try to answer your second question. Organic fertilizers requier bacteria in the soil to break down the organic matter into a usable soluable form, this takes a longer time than adding commercial fertizers. There is a relationship between bacteria in the soil a the roots of plants that enable the roots to absorbe nutriements. Some bacertia attach themselves to the roots and have a symbiotic relationship to the plants. The bacteria take sugars from the root and in return supply the roots with nutriements from the surounding soil. There is some evidence that these bacteria actually regulate the plants growth in times of drought.
    I liken using chemical fertilizers to "main linnig" ,bypassing the natural process and stimulating the plant directly. Chemicals over doses can kill bacteria and leach nutriement out of the soil perpetuating an never ending cycle of chemical dependacy. Which one is better ? Both used wisley over time are fine and plants will let you know when you have screwed up.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2007
  10. dgetlin1

    dgetlin1 Member

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    more important for me, greg, is to remove the organic stigma from my mind......of course, not being a soil biologist, there's so much to gain from information of this nature.....yours, so aptly put about using the chemical and organic methods wisely is, yet, the best info given..... i didn't know both could be used.......hard to understand, tho.......maybe i've become too green..

    anyway, thanks, so much for this info...your time and patience...........dg
     

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