What’s the difference between inorganic and organic fertilizers?

Organic? Inorganic? What are they? What are they good for? What about compost?

Fertilizers in general

They are compounds of animal, plant, mineral or synthetic origin that improve the soil’s chemistry and/or structure.

Organic fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are plant or animal based, and they are applied on top of the soil or mixed with it. They provide nutrients (especially nitrogen) to the soil and they improve its texture, making it more suitable for growing. Nutrients are slowly released as soil microorganisms break up the substance. Manure, compost, humus or guano are all organic fertilizers.

Mineral and synthetic fertilizers

They supply macro and/or micronutrients to the soil as they dissolve with watering. You can find out more about nutrients here. There are a lot of types depending on the nutrients you want to add, and they generally are more concentrated and quicker to release than organic fertilizers. They can be liquid or solid. It’s important to follow the instructions for this type of fertilizers to avoid burning, toxicity, or pollution.

Why fertilize?

In nature, processes such as floods, fires or the shed of organic matter from dead vegetation periodically enrich the soils. Besides, in natural ecosystems, plants of complementary nutritional needs convive. In gardens, however, the plants are usually the same year after year, and we rarely allow the accumulation of dead twigs, leaves, flowers or fruits on the soil. That’s why fertilization is required.

Fertilization is a complex matter. Do you want to know more? Leave a comment!

Image by: Kyle Ellefson

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