7 Types of Organic Fertilizers for American Farmers
With the rise of organic farming in the early 1990s and the long-term damage caused by synthetic fertilizers, many farmers retract from the use of synthetic fertilizers. Instead, they started using organic fertilizers that would not only hold water and feed essential microbes but also improve the soil’s structure and slowly provide nutrients to the soil and crops. So what are the most common fertilization techniques?
Organic fertilizers can fall under two main categories: plant-based or animal-based.
Although plant-based fertilizers might not have the highest nutrient value, they’re still quite a popular source to use. The most known types of plant-based fertilizers include:
- Liquid Kelp fertilizer
This type of fertilizers is made using cold-pressed kelps that are picked from the sea or ocean. What makes this type stand out is its ability to add nutrients and natural growth hormones to plants and soil right after application.
- Alfalfa fertilizer
Alfalfa is a plant that’s full of nutrients that would help with the soil’s fertility and plant growth. However, you may notice that this fertilizer will take some time before becoming effective. The time period might range anywhere from 3 to 4 months.
Even though compost does not add huge nutrient value, it’s a really good source for micronutrients. It also helps with slow nutrient release and water retention.
Extracted from soybeans, this type has a high percentage of nitrogen, which makes it suitable for nitrogen- loving plants.
It’s worth noting that soybean, alfalfa and kelp fertilizers cannot be used on certified organic crops that come from GMO crops.
As for animal-based fertilizers, they can include the end-product or by-product of an animal. Famous animal- based fertilizer might include:
Manure is usually applied depending on the season and type of crops. It has many resources, like chickens, horses, goats, etc. It could also include animal’s bedding; however, you should never collect bedding as it might have been exposed to chemicals at an early stage of the process.
Using manure as fertilizer needs caution, as it has to age for 6 months at least before using, or else it might burn your crops. In addition, you have to bear in mind the possibility of dealing with weeds, as seeds can be present in the animal’s manure.
- Fish- source fertilizers
Fish fertilizers, both powder and liquid, have good amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
- Fish meal: After going through the process of dehydration and oil removal, the waste left is then grinded to form a powder that’s high in nutrients.
- Liquid fish fertilizers: They can be either:
1. Emulsion fertilizer: This is where fish waste gets exposed to acid and heat. Despite its nutrient value, it has an unpleasant smell.
2. Hydrolyzed liquid fish fertilizer: Instead of acid and heat, fish waste here is exposed to enzymes.
- Animal’s blood and feathers
It’s quite common to use both blood and feather and even bones as fertilizers where they come in the form of powder. So they cannot be used right away in their original formula.
Please note that animal-based fertilizers work best when they’re combined with cover crops and strategies like rotation.
Understandably, going organic can be a real challenge since you need fertilizers that can provide the nutrients your soil and crops need while also being consistently organic. However, you can find organic fertilizers that come from multiple resources and in different formulas and choose what you deem fit for your crops and soil. Remember, organic fertilizers will keep your farm strong for longer compared to conventional fertilizers, so it’s worth the effort.