Organic vs. Synthetic Fertilizers--WHY?

Fertilizer is any additive that provides essential nutrients like nitrogen and potassium to growing plants and can be organic – derived from plants or animals – or inorganic – derived from minerals or synthesized by humans. In organic land care, the overall health of the soil and plants is the main concern, so while synthetic chemical fertilizers may do a quick job today, organic fertilizers ensure and increase the health of the property and our planet tomorrow!!

 

Organic growing techniques have been practiced for as long as humans have tilled the earth. Only since World War II has lawn care and agriculture production become dependent upon toxic synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. These man-made chemicals temporarily increase the look and the yield of many crops, but also increase the long-term cost of production to maintain, cause air and water pollution, change overall soil structure, and jarr the entire ecosystem.

 

Organic fertilizers, whether they’re meals, manures, or composted plant material, contain N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium), trace minerals, enzymes, vitamins, and lots of organic matter. Of those ingredients, 100% are useful to the soil and plants. In contrast, synthetic fertilizers contain no organic matter. Soil microorganisms must have a carbon energy source, and, if it isn’t provided, the microbes will take it from the soil. That drains soil health with every fertilizer application.

 

Unlike synthetic fertilizers, organic fertilizers don’t create high levels of salts, such as nitrates, which disturb or even kill beneficial soil organisms. Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly and naturally. All components in organic lawn care are usable by the grass and plants, because organic fertilizers don’t contain useless fillers as with synthetic fertilizers.

 

Feeding the soil and plants with nothing but N-P-K is like feeding your kids nothing but soda. Soil and people need a balance of nutrients. For some unknown reason, fertilizer recommendations continue to emphasize these three nutrients with special emphasis on high levels of nitrogen. Studies have shown that 80% or more of all synthetic nitrogen applied to the soil will be volatized or leached out, and the 10% to 20% that does reach the plant will be harmful. Other studies show that an excess of chemical fertilizer slows or even stops the activity of microflora and microfauna, such as beneficial bacteria, algae, fungi, and other microorganisms. Harsh fertilizers also cause damage to macroorganisms, such as earthworms, millipedes, and centipedes, which are extremely important to the natural processes in the soil.

The most important material in an organic lawn or garden is organic matter that becomes humus during the decomposition process. Humus becomes humic acid, other beneficial acids, and mineral nutrients.

 

Organic fertilizers are better than artificial products because they’re the derivatives of plants and animals and therefore contain most or all the trace elements that exist in growing plants and animals. In addition, organic fertilizers are naturally slow-releasing and provide nutrients to plants when they need it. Synthetic fertilizers glut the plants with nutrients immediately after application, which is usually at the wrong time.

Take a look at the benefits of organic fertilizers over their synthetic counterparts — from safety to long term plant and soil health, organic products help to create a property that you can feel good about.

  • Organic fertilizers work slowly. In order for organic fertilizers to work, the soil has to first break them down. This means that both the soil and the plants in it get the nutrition they need when they need it. Synthetic fertilizers, although speedy, often over feed the plant, do nothing for the soil, and can damage turf and plants by burning them.

  • Organic fertilizers improve the soil. Organic materials and fertilizers improve the soil texture, allowing it to hold water longer, and increase the bacterial and fungal activity in the soil. So, they not only assist your plants, they help the soil. Synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, deplete the soil of its nutrients, making it unproductive. Good luck growing those awesome perennials, trees or turf in unproductive soil!

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  • Organic fertilizers are safe. Although you won’t want to eat or drink them, you can rest assured that organic fertilizers are safe for the environment, your family, and your pets. Synthetic fertilizers require a significant amount of fossil fuels to produce and process, and often run off into nearby water sources like streams and lakes (think Chesepeake Bay, Potomac River, Lake Accotink, Burke Lake, etc).

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  • Organic fertilizers are easy to apply. Organics are just as easy to apply as their synthetic, non-organic counterparts. Adding them to soil or spraying them on leaves — however you use them, they add countless benefits to your property while providing the same amount of convenience and ease as chemical fertilizers.

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  • New Earth’s lawn care service feeds the soil life, root systems, and the grass plant where straight synthetic fertilizers primarily just feed the grass blade. The quick release of nutrients from these synthetic fertilizers cause the plant to put all its energy into top growth, but doesn't nurture their roots, the soil, or their defense systems leaving them vulnerable to diseases, insect damage, thatch build up, and heat stress. The high salt content of synthetic fertilizers also kills beneficial soil life that is crucial to developing a healthy lawn and landscape. This is not a sustainable way of performing lawn care. 

  • New Earth’s lawn maintenance program adds needed organic matter into the soil which helps improve the soil structure over time. To have a strong, lush lawn you must have quality soil with a thriving soil life that allows the roots of the grass to grow deep into the ground. Our system allows the soil life to thrive instead of depleting it as synthetic products do.  A good soil structure teeming with billions of beneficial microbes and organic nutrients is the foundation for any beautiful lawn.

  • New Earth uses only organic fertilizers with one application of a corn gluten pre-emergent and post emergent fertilizer for crabgrass control in the early and late spring.  For broadleaf weed control we use CIVITAS, a hybrid weed control product that uses patented micro technology to reduce the amount of active ingredient in the concentrate to 1.57% compared to a standard weed control product which has 36% active ingredient.