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June 2012
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What are different types of organic fertilizer that can be added to the soil? – Part 2

Fertilizer (or fertilizer) is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin. This material is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. Organic fertilizers are naturally occurring fertilizers (e.g. compost, manure).

What are the points of comparison with inorganic fertilizer?

• Organic fertilizers had released between 25% and 60% of their nitrogen content.
• Controlled release fertilizers (CRFs) had a relatively constant rate of release.
• Soluble fertilizer released most of its nitrogen content at the first leaching.
• The nutrients in organic fertilizer are both more dilute and also much less readily available to plants.
• All organic fertilizers are classified as ‘slow-release’ fertilizers.
• Therefore, they cannot cause nitrogen burn.
• Organic fertilizers from composts and other sources can be quite variable from one batch to the other.

Types of Organic Fertilizers

There are three types of organic fertilizers:
• Mineral based
• Plant based
• Animal based

Mineral based Fertilizers

• These fertilizers are a long term solution.
• These fertilizers slowly decompose into the soil.
• The mineral or rock breaks down into a form that feeds the soil which in turn produces healthy plants.
Some Examples of mineral based fertilizers are:
– Epsom salt
– Green-sand
– Gypsum
– Limestone

Plant based Fertilizers

• These fertilizers have low to moderate nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium values but they are still beneficial.
• The nutrients found in fertilizers made from plants break down easily and serve as a quick source of nutrients for plants.
Some common plant based fertilizers are:
– Compost
– Cottonseed meal
– Seaweed
– Soybean meal

Animal based Fertilizers

• These fertilizers are great because they have high nitrogen level.
• Animal-based fertilizers are easy to find.
• They help plants produce healthy leaves.
The most popular types of animal based fertilizers are:
– Animal manures
– Bat guano
– Blood meal
– Bone meal
– Fish by-products

Some other examples of organic fertilizers are:
Chicken litter: It consists of chicken manure mixed with sawdust.
Algae that captures nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agricultural fields has the ability to prevent water contamination of these nutrients, but also can be used as an organic fertilizer.
Nutrient-rich algae, once dried, can be applied to cucumber and corn seedlings.

Sources for Organic Fertilizer

– Animal
• Animal-sourced and human urea.
• Composting.
• Application of urea to the soil.
• Urine can also be improved by converting it to struvite.
• The conversion is performed by adding magnesium to the urine.
• Sewage sludge.

– Plant
• Leguminous cover crops.
• Green manure through nitrogen fixation.

– Mineral
• Limestone
• Rock phosphate
• Sodium nitrate

How to use an organic fertilizer?

• Step 1: Know what your soil needs.
• Step 2: Interpret soil test results.
• Step 3: Purchase an organic fertilizer that closely matches the fertilizer number recommended.
• Step 4: Spread the recommended amount of dry fertilizer over the garden area.
• Step 5: Add a handful of organic fertilizer to the planting hole as you plant seeds or transplant seedlings.
• Step 6: Work dry organic fertilizers into the top inch of soil around existing plants.
• Step 7: Dilute and mix foliar liquid fertilizers according to the instructions on the packaging. Use a hand sprayer or backpack sprayer to apply these fertilizers directly to foliage.

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