Organic fertilizers are increasing in popularity as consumers realize the benefits it gives to their health and the environment. You can find separate counters in almost all stores specifying organic food and organic vegetables. The only fear that is keeping consumers away is that of bugs and pests and how to get rid of them.
The question - which of the two fertilizers, organic or chemical, is better, raises a lot of debate. Both have their own benefits as well as drawbacks. There are many significant differences when you consider the long-term effects on the soil and environment.
There are many terminologies being used about fertilizers like chemicals, natural, artificial, inorganic, synthetic etc. but it all narrows down to either chemicals or organic fertilizers.
Organic in simple terms means that the processing is minimal in the products and the nutrients are more than likely to retain their natural form. They are not refined or extracted. They are made from animal or plant waste or powdered minerals.
Cottonseed meal, manure, bone meal, compost are a few examples. The products are not sold as fertilizers as it is problematic to guarantee the nutrient ratio. They are called soil-conditioners and processed in a factory while compost and manure are processed at farms.
However, organic also does not necessarily mean to be totally pesticide-free or chemical-free. In many states, farmers do use certain chemical sprays and powders on the crops.
Organic fertilizers not only release nutrients as they break down but also improve the composition of the soil and enhance its capacity to retain water and nutrients.
Organic fertilization is a slow process and that works to its advantage as it minimizes the risks of the over-fertilization or causing harm to the plants. It eliminates the hazards of building up of toxic salts and chemicals that can cause harm to the plants.
They are biodegradable, renewable, and environment-friendly. They obtain their energy from decaying plants and animal waste.
The disadvantages of the organic fertilizers are that they are seasonal as they require warmth and moisture. They depend on nature which again is unpredictable and can result in delays. You must be patient and you will be rewarded in much better ways than what you expect.
Another reason for the uncertainty is that the nutrient ratio is not known. The overall percentage is much lesser than in chemical fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are expensive though the benefits it offers to make the high costs worthwhile.
Inorganic, artificial, synthetic call it by any name. Chemical fertilizers are refined and made from petroleum products, rocks or other organic sources to extract nutrients.
The significant advantages of chemical fertilizers are that there is no delay. You can see improvements within a few days. They are analyzable to produce the nutrient ratio as you desire. They are lower in cost.
The disadvantages are many. Dangers of over-fertilization, toxic build-up and harmful effects on the food and crops are possible. Long usage of chemicals may change the soil composition of acidity and alkalinity.
It is better for the world in the long run if the impact on the environment is less and for that organic is the better alternative. It needs to be scaled up though.