Fertilizer blend is a combination of several natural ingredients mixed in a specific ratio to achieve a designed NPK ratio. A compost may or may not have multiple ingredients. Is this the only difference between the two, there is more than what meets the eye. let us now examine how are fertilizer blends more effective than compost.
Table of contents
- Nutrient density
- Environmental impact
- What is good for soil?
- What is good for plants?
- What is good when you have limited space?
- Long term advantages
- Related articles
To understand the dynamics of Fertilizer blend vs Compost we must first get our selves familiarized with the two. Let us have an in-depth introduction to the two organic fertilizer types.
Organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost). At the simplest level, the process of composting requires making a heap of wet organic matter (also called green waste), such as leaves, grass, and food scraps, and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of months. However, composting also can take place as a multi-step, closely monitored process with measured inputs of water, air, and carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials. The decomposition process is aided by shredding the plant matter, adding water and ensuring proper aeration by regularly turning the mixture when open piles or “windrows” are used. Earthworms and fungi further break up the material. Bacteria requiring oxygen to function (aerobic bacteria) and fungi manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide, and ammonium.
Fertilizer blends are essentially uncomposted blends of various natural ingredients mixed in a very specific ratio designed to target a particular nutrition requirement. These fertilizers are meant to decompose in soil, they can either be solid or liquid. A carefully crafted blend is free from pathogens and is meant to increase the population of beneficial microbes, soil organisms by giving them food. Since blends decompose in soil they are odor free and do not present hygiene problems.
Decomposition in soil is essentially similar to digestion in soil which means that the blend is first consumed by bacterial and soil organisms which convert the nutrients into plant usable form. Blends are most of the time slow release type which means they first have to be broken down by the soil dwellers before the plant has anything for themselves.
As explained above, compost is a final product of aerobic decomposition cycle. This results in nutrients in plant available form (these nutrients are readily available to plants and act as moderate release fertilizers). However due to decomposition much of the vital Carbon and Nitrogen is already lost to atmosphere, so are other vital nutrients. A compost has residual moisture content which is required to maintain nutrients and barely manages to keep soil bacteria alive. Once this compost reaches your garden and you apply it in your plant soil, there is almost nothing left for bacteria in your garden soil to eat and they remain dormant, earthworms of-course can consume it but again as there is not much left their population also barely manages to survive.
On the other hand, let us take example of Ecotika’s dry fertilizer blends. These blends are dry and can be stored for longer duration without the fear of loosing bacterial activity in fertilizer as there is none. These blends when applied to your garden soil kick starts a chain reaction ( I mean throws a party to all soil organisms). These blends act as food for beneficial soil microbes, earthworms, millipedes etc. and causes their population to rise. When they consume these blends they convert the nutrients to plant usable form which then feeds the plant. This makes Fertilizer blends more sustainable and beneficial in long run.
Compost hardly ever crosses the nutrient concentration level of 2-2-2, whereas Fertilizer blends with ratio up to 8-8-8 have been registered. This means Fertilizer blends are more concentrated in terms of nutrients.
Composting is considered as a good way for waste management be it on farm, off farm, city waste management,municipal solid waste management, an alternate source of earning for dairy industry and farms. It is also the cheapest form of organic fertilizer.
But how about the environmental impacts of composting. Composting can although be considered as carbon neutral and to some extent carbon negative, but it is the process of composting that is a cause of concern. During composting one has to maintain the moisture levels. When water is sprinkled some water laden with vital nutrients leaches to soil thereby causing loss of nutrients and presenting the risk of ground water pollution. It is therefore important to design the composting bed in such a way as to capture this leaching water (which in its own right is a wonderful liquid fertilizer).
In terms of Fertilizer blend this is not the case as fertilizer blends are mostly dry and are decomposed in soil in a natural way by soil microbes. Once the nutrients are available after the and during the decomposition they are almost readily absorbed by the plant hence there is reduced risk of ground water pollution.
What is good for Soil?
Being organic in nature both compost and Fertilizer blend are good for soil. If you wish to have an instant ready to use soil amendment compost is the solution for you. However characteristics of compost largely depend on the raw material that was decomposed.
On the other hand Fertilizer blends are good when you want to make your soil a living and thriving soil, which has all the benefits of compost, gives rich nutrients to plants, helps soil absorb moisture.
What is good for plants?
Plants benefit from both. But in case of compost since nutrients are in available form there is a risk of burning roots if over fertilized. Nutrients in available form also mean risk of washing away of nutrients every time you water. On the contrary Fertilizer blends are not decomposed hence nutrients are bound and have to be digested by soil organisms before nutrients are available to plants. On one hand this means that your plants have to wait a significant time interval to absorb nutrients, but this also means that there will be a continuous supply for your plant and reduced risk of getting nutrients washed away with water. If you are regularly applying fertilizer blends then there from your plants perspective there is a seemingly endless supply of nutrients.
If you want instant results without feeding your soil choose Compost, but if you want sustained supply of nutrients and a healthy plant in a healthy soil choose Fertilizer blends. Plant growing in healthy soil show less symptoms of nutrition deficiency.
What is good when you have limited space?
When faced with limited space as in Urban gardens where balcony gardens are a norm, Fertilizer blend is you answer. Ecotika’s Fertilizer blends are available in small quantities and are nutrient rich. They are also free from foul odor and are pathogen free, clean to handle.
On the contrary compost yo need to apply more in order to get more, this adds to your space crunch and it is difficult to find out what has went in to make the compost, which results in presence of pathogens in compost. Also it is worthwhile to mention that even heavy metal presence cannot be ruled out if it is a city compost. If you intent to use it in your kitchen garden it is a big no as these heavy metals are in their available form and plants take them readily which end up in their fruits and leaves. This defeats the very purpose of kitchen garden. Fertilizer blends are not so susceptible to heavy metal presence.
Long term advantages
From the above discussion, it is clear that long term advantages of Fertilizer blend is indeed proved. Let us summarize them;
- Fertilizer blends create a living soil,
- Fertilizer blends are more concentrated with nutrients,
- Fertilizer blends provide long term supply of nutrients to plants.
- Carefully crafted fertilizer blend is pathogen free
- A good fertilizer blend is clean to handle and does not emit bad odor.
- Fertilizer blends are good solution for urban gardeners.
- Fertilizer blends let’s nature take the best course for a long term solution.
- Fertilizer blends feeds all the soil beneficial microbes, soil organisms which in turn feed the plant.
- Fertilizer blend helps beneficial soil microbes to multiply which helps to reduce harmful bacteria. Hence Fertilizer blends controls bad bacteria.
- Fertilizer blend helps soil absorb more moisture, and hence helps reduce water consumption.