When it comes to fertilizer, there’s a lot of options.

That’s because the quality of soil plays a crucial role in the success of lawns, gardens or crops. The use of “all-natural” vs synthetic fertilizer has been an ongoing debate among growers, farmers and lawn-care specialists for a long time. As technology and science has progressed the types of fertilization available, so has the techniques and best practices to get the most ideal results.

At Green Wing Services, we prefer to predominately use organic fertilizers to synthetic. Part of our core mission at Green Wing is to ensure Floridians do not have to battle between environmental consciousness and a beautiful lawn. We uphold this value by abiding by the strictest nutrient pollution reduction criteria, including best practices related to fertilization and pesticides. That’s why we choose to use organic fertilizers as often as we can unless certain circumstances require otherwise.

Natural (organic) fertilizers are by nature slow-release food; they take time to break down and enrich the soil with macronutrients. According to Ecogardner.com, “Unlike chemical fertilizer, organic (all natural) fertilizer is minimally processed to retain its “natural” form. Generally, organic fertilizers are made from plant and/or animal wastes as well as powdered minerals.” All things that are made naturally on earth.

Commercial growers often use synthetic fertilizer because it speeds up the growth process of their crop. However, overuse of synthetic fertilizers over time can deplete soils of natural microorganisms and nutrients. Generally, chemical fertilizers are made synthetically from inorganic materials including petroleum products and rocks.

Here are the major pros and cons of organic vs. synthetic: 

Organic

Pro:

  • Better retains water
    • These fertilizers improve the soil structure of the plants which means better infiltration and water-holding capacity
  • No toxin buildup
    • These products do not release harmful chemicals or salts that are deadly to plants.
  • Fosters a sustainable ecosystem for plants and organisms alike and improves plant structure
    • The rich nutrients keeps the soil fertile and supports increase in earthworm and microorganism activity in the soil– both of which improve soil organic matter, content and structure.
  • Can breakdown contaminants
    • By slowly releasing nutrients into the soil, the plants could absorb all the nutrients they need to grow without stressing out or over-fertilizing the crops.

Con:

  • The results can be slow 
    • Organic fertilizers have to break down into the soil first before you can see the results. It’s not unusual to see the results within a few months after the first application has broken down completely.
  • Natural fertilizers can be messy and difficult to apply precisely 
    • That’s why you hire Green Wing so you don’t have to worry about it!
  • The amount of nutrients and microorganisms in the soil can vary 
    • This is a result of the natural creation process

Synthetic:

Pro:

  • Faster acting 
    • They’re faster acting than organic making them a good choice for aiding plants in severe distress from nutrient deficiencies.
  • Easy to handle
    • These fertilizers, which come as dry, granular pellets or water-soluble products, also provide even, consistent feeding.
  • Inexpensive
    • Synthetic fertilizers are much cheaper than all-natural. *While inorganic fertilizer is cheaper in the short term, it adds less to the soil in the long term.

Con:

  • The majority don’t contain micronutrient organisms
    • The rapid release of nutrients may leach them deeply into the soil and water table where plants can’t access them.
  • Can easily be over-applied
    • Heavy applications can burn your plants and build up toxic salt concentrations in the soil which makes it unlivable for most plants
  • Can release nutrients too quickly or too slowly 
    • This results in an unnatural balance of growth

Hope this helps provide some clarity around why we use organic vs. synthetic fertilizers.

Your bug guy,

Jeff Daniels

P.S.

We work with Keep Brevard Beautiful to help homeowners earn the Lagoon Friendly Lawns certification. We also work with the MRC’s Indian River Lagoon Green Business Program to address good environmental practices related to conservation of water, prevention of non-point source pollution, reduction and disposal of waste, and reduction in energy use to reduce the impact of climate change.

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