Thursday, March 25, 2010

Organic Fertilizers Vs. Synthetic

I was one of those..... The gardener who loved the effects of synthetic fertilizers. My plants would be wimpy one day then hopped up on that blue juice the next. Yes, you get some really fast and amazing results, but at what cost?

Beside my own experience in the drastic transformation of the health of my garden soil I have read some very interesting articles on the long term effects of synthetic Nitrogen fertilizers on soil. One of the great articles I most recently read was on grist:the nitrogen dilemma. I think it is a must read for any gardener, but you can draw your own opinions regarding this topic. In summary, the article explains the argument against the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. It explains the negative impact of synthetic nitrogen on soils health and in our environment.

How does Synthetic Nitrogen work to destroy our soil? The article explains that a team of University of Illinois researchers led by professors Richard Mulvaney, Saeed Khan, and Tim Ellsworth found that nitrogen fertilizers stimulate soil microbes that feed on organic matter. They explain it is sorta like a tread mill effect where the ravines microbes that feed on organic material (ie. minerals, garden and animal compost) create an accelerated decline in the organic matter which then results in the inability for the soil to store organic nitrogen. It creates this never ending dependability on more synthetic nitrogen. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers actually deplete and destroy the natural process of the soils health.

Contrary to synthetic fertilizers, Organic fertilizer builds the soil. Organic fertilizer is the product of plant, animal and mineral origin. The nutrients are gentle on plants and are released slowly over a period of time. This process is slower, but it is balanced so the soil health improves over time. Some great organic fertilizers to try are, Bonemeal, Alfalfa meal, soybean meal and seaweed meal or any other complete organic fertilizer . In addition I use organic chicken manure and garden compost. Other organic soil enrichment includes, Leaf mold, worm composting, green manure and other animal manures.

In addition, this article explains how the additional nitrogen not be used up fast enough by the microbes in the soil is lost to runoff. This excess nitrogen is finding its way to our waterways and poses a variety of collateral issues. From what I have read there are many negative impacts when using Synthetic fertilizers and countless benefits to using organics. Try it out, you will see!