All living things need food in order to grow, and that includes the plants and trees growing in our landscape. Their diet usually depends on what is most convenient for us. However, that may not be what is best for them.
Natural and organic fertilizer have their pros and cons, just as synthetic fertilizers do. Becoming aware of how these different plant foods interact with the environment and the plants themselves will help us make the best fertilizer choice.
Natural and Organic
These terms are basically the same in the plant food world. Either of them means the product consists of ingredients found in nature, such as animal manure, fish byproducts, and compost.
Natural and organic fertilizers have also undergone minimal processing, and in some cases, no processing.
These types of fertilizing products can vary significantly in price and nutrient value. Animal manures, like cow or chicken, can often be obtained free of charge. On the other hand, bat guano and other exotic animal manures may be rather expensive.
Animal manures, fish byproducts, bonemeal, compost, and other natural fertilizers have to decompose before they are able to provide nutrients to plants. Bagged organic plant foods may have filler ingredients added and may not be 100% natural.
Organic plant food will improve soil structure by improving drainage and aeration, preventing compaction and erosion, and improving overall soil fertility.
Many different petroleums, chemical, filler, and rock products are typically found in synthetic fertilizers. While technically ‘natural’ products, the refining process takes them out of their natural state and puts them in an unnatural state.
Nutrients in these products are instantly available for plants to uptake. The nutritional value of synthetic fertilizers are easy to calculate and are stated on the side of the packages; natural fertilizers have variable nutritional values.
Synthetic fertilizers do not improve soil structure; they only provide instant food for plants.
Either type of fertilizer will provide nutrition for plant life, and it’s the ecological impact that shows the vast difference between the two.
Natural and organic fertilizers improve soil, add no chemicals into garden produce and don’t pollute soil, groundwater or air after rain or blowing wind.
Synthetic fertilizers will create ground, water, and air pollution when rain and wind carry them away from landscape plants and into nearby water sources and the air. The chemicals and inert ingredients in synthetic fertilizers also end up in the food we eat.
Before choosing a type of fertilizer, check with lawn experts in your area to make sure they can meet your needs and to ask them any specific questions you have about the impact of your lawn and the chemicals you use.