Organic Fertilizers in Farming
In this blog, we will talk about organic fertilizers used in organic farming. But let’s start by seeing what fertilizers are in general.
Fertilizers are chemical substances that are sprayed or added to crops to increase their productivity. These are not used at intervals but daily to increase the crop yield. The fertilizers contain all the essential nutrients needed by the plants, crops, and soil. After fertilizers are added, the water retention capacity of soil is enhanced and also soil fertility is increased. Fertilizers include nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous.
Importance of fertilizers
There is a huge difference in demand and supply of food sources. With the increasing population, the demand for food production is huge but because of fewer resources, supply is not that great. So fertilizers are used to help with factors like loss of soil, fertility, pests, and lack of nutrients which results in less supply of food. Adding fertilizer to the soil and plant helps in these problems.
Fertilizers are important in many ways like the following ways:
- They increase the tolerance of plants towards pests. Also, it reduces the dependence on insecticides and herbicides, therefore producing a healthier crop. Also, plant diseases are reduced.
- Fertilisers help to improve the root depth and water holding capacity of the soil.
- Fertilisers also help to strengthen the straw and stalks of the plants.
- Fertilisers also help in the faster development of roots and the formation of seeds in plants.
- Nitrogen in the fertilisers helps in enhancing the growth of plants which can be seen by its green color. Plants are greener if they have efficient nitrogen.
Types of fertilizers
There are 2 types of fertilizers as mentioned below:
- Inorganic fertilisers
- Organic fertilisers
They are chemical fertilizers that contain artificial substances and nutrient elements for the growth of crop production with the help of chemicals. The inorganic fertilizers are of two types:
Nitrogen is very necessary for plants as nitrogen is the main element of chlorophyll used in balancing the method of photosynthesis. Nitrogen fertilizers play an essential part to improve the production and quality of agricultural crops.
The main nutrient in this is phosphorous. The efficiency of this fertilizer completely depends on the amount of phosphorous present, method of fertilizing the crop, properties of soil, and crop strains. Phosphorous is found in the protoplasm of the cell which plays an important role in cell growth and proliferation. This fertilizer is used in the growth of plant roots.
They are the fertilizers that are obtained from natural sources like plants and animals. Organic fertilizers are very beneficial as it enriches the soil with carbonic compounds which are essential for the growth of the plant. Organic matter is also increased in plants if organic fertilizers are used which promotes the reproduction of microorganisms and also helps in changing the physical and chemical properties of soil. Organic fertilizers can be made from many substances but the main substances used as organic fertilizers are:
- Agricultural waste
- Livestock manure
- Industrial waste
- Municipal sludge
Now let’s see about organic fertilizers in detail:
Source of organic fertilizers
The main and most important source of organic fertilizers is peat, animal remains and wastes (mainly found in slaughterhouses), and also the plant wastes from farms and sewer sludge. Organic fertilizers are actually carbon-based compounds that increase the productivity and growth of plants. Organic farmers prefer just to use organic fertilizers in order to maintain the fertility of the soil. Some organic compounds are manures, powdered rocks (such as lime, rock phosphate, and greensand), blood meal, bone meal, wood ash, and compost which contains important micronutrients needed for improving soil quality.
Many important nutrients and compounds are present in animal excreta and animal waste which can be obtained by several methods and used as fertilizer to ensure the proper growth of plants, provide fertility to the soil and also help the soil to regain the lost nutrients.
Sewer sludge is also an important fertilizer as it contains human excreta which are very nutritious. It is generally generated after mixing excreta with water and treatment of wastewater in the sewage treatment plant. Much different kind of nutrients is needed for different kind of plants. You have to have proper research on the needs and requirements of different plants and accordingly use the fertilizer.
List of fertilizers used in organic farming
Manures: Manures are being used for 8,000 years. They are nothing but cow or chicken’s dung which is most easily available in farms and also are very nutritious. It was the first time used in Europe so that farming and rearing livestock can be carried out simultaneously.
The nutritional value of different manure is different as no two animals have the same amount of nutrients. But nutritional value can be determined by its source, age, and bedding material. Generally, manure is composted for 6 months or until fully composted.
Compost: This is also a very sustainable method. In this method, leftover fruits and vegetables are directly added to soil, letting the microbes inside the soil feed on it and boosting soil fertility and water holding capacity. This method can improve soil health and supply micronutrients to plants.
Liquid kelp: This fertilizer is made by plucking the aquatic plant and cold processing it for organic farming. The resultant liquid is then mixed with water and sprayed on plants or reach plants by the method of soil drenching.
It helps to grow plants very quickly though it contains a small amount of potassium and nitrogen. Also, the hormones present in this fertilizer helps in flowering the plant quickly. Also, this liquid kelp helps in long term health improvement of soil.
Fish/ Fish By-products: To make fertilizer out of fish and its by-products. You have to treat it with an acid, enzyme, or heat treatment resulting in the formation of fish emulsion. Naturally, this fertilizer has a very strong, powerful, and revolting odor except when it’s treated with enzymes.
These were some of the organic fertilizers used in organic farming. Many such things can be used as organic fertilizers, provided that the substances are obtained from nature naturally.