The Ultimate Face-off: Chemical Fertilizers Vs. Organic Fertilizers

Chemical Fertilizer Vs. Organic Fertilizers
This is the common dilemma faced by most farmers and gardeners today. It's essentially the decision to choose between the tried and true but slow-working fertilizer; one that promises faster growth. Let's understand about this distinction in this Gardenerdy article.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Fertilizers are the protein supplements for your plants. They are used to enrich the soil with nutrients that it does not inherently have. They should be used strictly as a deficiency-buster. Inordinate use of different types of fertilizers kills the naturally present soil ingredients too. So, it is important to use them carefully and only as per need.
Understanding the Two Types
Organic fertilizers are made from naturally occurring substances, and include by-products or waste remains of the animals. Dead plants and animal remains are also often used as fertilizers in organic farming. They are naturally chemical-rich and contain high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK).
The main difference between a chemical and an organic fertilizer is that the former comes out of a lab and the organic one comes from living beings. A chemical fertilizer is synthetically prepared to include the vital nutrients that are necessary for the plant's growth process. All of them contain the normal NPK requirement and any other nutrients as required.
Comparing the Two Fertilizer Types
Benefits of Organic Fertilizers
They are made by natural processes. Although they take time to generate due to the nature of its 'ingredients', they prove to be much better when you produce them at a constant rate. Moreover, you know exactly what's going into it, so you can figure out if you want to add or substitute some things.
Effect on Biological Activity
Chemical fertilizers kill the microorganisms in the soil. It is one of the advantages of organic fertilizers that they boost microbial activity in the soil. These microbes help in degenerating the complex compounds present in the organic fertilizers.
Effect on Soil
Overuse of fertilizers is often a problem as excess nutrients are neither good for the overall composition of soil nor are they good for the plant. Organic fertilizers may also have a problem of overuse, but it is a slow nutrient releasing material, so the nutrients will anyway take some time to get absorbed.
Effect on Environment
It is one of the greatest advantages of organic fertilizers that they are easily available in nature, in plenty and with almost no adverse effect on the environment. Chemical fertilizers, on the other hand, might have the problem of nitrogen components seeping into groundwater streams or otherwise into the nearest lake or river, causing pollution.
Organic fertilizers are cheaper compared to their chemical counterparts as they are easily available in nature and only require packaging. Chemical fertilizers need extensive research and production work, making them much more expensive.
Benefits of Chemical Fertilizers
It is custom-made for your requirement. Now if your soil is rich in nitrogen and potassium, what you need is a fertilizer that will take care of the phosphorus deficiency. Chemical fertilizers will give you the option of using phosphorus-rich fertilizers.
While organic fertilizers have a low NPK ratio, the chemical ones enjoy a very high ratio of the same. So if you have a very unproductive soil, chemical fertilizers are what you need as they have an NPK ratio of nearly 60%, while the most fertile of organic fertilizers can give only about 14%.
Release time
Organic fertilizers may take more time to release nutrients as they need some microbial activity to get them working. Chemical fertilizers get cracking instantly and release essential nutrients into the soil.
It's now pretty obvious that using chemical fertilizers excessively will not only harm your plants, but the soil and underground water reservoir as well. They can produce optimum results when used in moderation. Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, prove to be better in the long run, as long as your land isn't desperately low on one or more compounds.