To augment agricultural produce and to support the growing demand for food and crops are the obvious reasons for going on chemical fertilizers. But, people gradually realized that chemical fertilizers bring more curse than blessings in the long run not only to the soil and plant life but also to humans. What was once seemed to be a profitable option for the farmers and gardeners, has started posing danger to their soil and helpful micro-organism in the soil. Soon soil has lost its natural humus and become hard, diseased and got infested with weed. As a result of which soil has lost its natural vitality and foods it produced contain lower mineral and nutritional value. In order to understand the impact, it is wise to draw a comparison between organic and chemical fertilizers – mainly their advantages and disadvantages.
While chemical fertilizers can be defined as any inorganic material of wholly or partially synthetic origin that are applied to the soil to sustain plant growth; organic fertilizers are substances that are derived from the remains or by product of organisms which contain the essential nutrients for plant growth. Organic fertilizers need the help of micro-organisms in the soil to break them down and make them available to the plant. And the soil benefits from this process. But, chemical fertilizers are non-organic minerals in concentrated form that are readily available to the plant. They need little help from the soil to break them down for plant use. They do not help towards soil formation and its healthy maintenance. Due to over use of chemical fertilizers for a longer period of time may render the land completely barren and waste; not fit for growing crops and vegetables. In fact, an overdose of chemical fertilizers may kill these helpful microbes which help building blocks for fertile soil rich in humus and consequently allowing essential nutrients permanently leak out of the soil leaving it completely irreclaimable.
Both men and plants need nutrients. Chemical fertilizers may help produce greater volume of crops and foods which are rich in a handful of nutrients; but, these foods may lack essential micronutrients which are needed for healthy growth of a person. On other hand organic fertilizers like seaweed, cottonseed meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, manure etc. supply a complete range of minerals as per plant’s requirement. Foods grown by using organic fertilizers will naturally be superior in nutrients. Again, microbes convert the organic matter to various nutrients and minerals. Minerals are typically present in broad range that complements with the soil, providing more balanced nutrition to plants. But, chemical fertilizers lack organic matter and hence impede the function of microbes in the soil.
Organic fertilizers work toward soil reclamation as soil goes through the plant cycle of planting, harvesting and de-cropping and naturally loses an amount of nutrients which results in the pH imbalance. Organic fertilizers help correct this imbalance in the soil pH and make it suitable for plant growth. Needless to say, chemical fertilizers turn soil into acidic and may burn plant roots if applied overdoses directly.
Another important factor about chemical fertilizers the environmentalists are always against is the chemical release or residue these fertilizers leave; which may contaminate ground water or water bodies causing hazard to plants, humans and animals. But, organic fertilizers are free from such serious environmental issues; rather they are environmental friendly requiring minimal further processing for reuse. Chemical fertilizers are artificially prepared using synthetic material in chemical factories but organic fertilizers are prepared naturally and can be prepared by farmers themselves. Hence, organic fertilizers are cheaper in comparison to chemical fertilizers. Soil is important for agriculture. When we use organic fertilizers, they bind sandy soil and even loosen thick clay or muddy soil and help these types of soils to sustain water and provide good aeration for easy movement of friendly microbes which ensures healthier plant growth. On the contrary, chemical fertilizers may cause to dry and harden a fertile soil. There are reasons for chemical fertilizers but they need to be used consciously and sparingly with full knowledge of their merits and demerits.