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  • Matt Keenan

Organic vs. synthetic fertilizer, what you need to know

Fertilizers like the foods we eat are a package deal, of course, caffeine and protein shakes can sustain an athlete for a short period of time, but eating whole foods is always a better way to improve all aspects of performance indefinitely. Here we will discuss the benefits of organic fertilizer that you get compared with conventional synthetic fertilizer.



Carbon

Carbon is the basis of all life on earth in the universe as we currently know it, so by adding organic fertilizer, you can be sure you are adding carbon to your soil too.


Why is carbon important?

Carbon sources, found in proteins, sugars, and much more are food sources for microscopic organisms in your soil, most of which are beneficial, and some are even required for healthy plants and lawns. Carbon that has already been metabolized(digested) several times is more stable, in this form, carbon has different properties ranging from holding onto precious soil nutrients and water as well as providing a home for these microbes to grow and much more!


Remember this: the more carbon in your soil, the better your lawn will be!


Renewable resources

Different types of fertilizer have different impacts on the environment both in the short term and long term. Organic fertilizers are generally made from renewable resources as compared to synthetic fertilizers, which are petroleum products.



So are synthetic chemicals safe?

The answer is relative to what plants/animals are in contact with. For humans, of course, organics are usually much safer for the customer and applicator, as well as storage (organic fertilizer won't explode) BUT, synthetic fertilizers burden human health in indirect ways. They greatly affect our water quality because of the way they deliver nutrients. Fertilizers running off into bodies of water can quickly destroy the ecosystem (eutrophication) and inevitably leach into groundwater putting our drinking water at risk, especially for communities on well water.


Plant nutrients

Plants require 14 mineral elements for life but can benefit from the presence of a few more. Silicon is a great example for grasses, it's not technically essential to growth but has been demonstrated to improve the general resilience of grasses. Unfortunately, as of right now, plant-available silicon is a very expensive product and may only be justified by golf courses or as recommended by a professional.


Salt index

You may be familiar with table salt, but chemically speaking, most plant nutrients are salts because, with some exceptions, plants only take up "ions", these ionic compounds are salts. So when you apply a bag of synthetic fertilizer to your lawn, you are increasing the salt index of your soil, which can be measured by electrical conductivity. Of course, plants can't grow in a soil depleted of all nutrients but in general, a lower conductivity will produce stronger plants and grass, especially in hot and dry conditions or starting new seeds.


Why is organic less "salty"?

Organic fertilizers are generally much lower in nutrient concentrations than synthetic and take much longer to release the nutrients into the soil in the form plants require them. This may or may not be appealing, depending on your goals but as far as residential lawns go, you certainly do NOT want a surge of grass growth because of the resulting summer stress excessive concentrations of synthetic fertilizer.


And, back to the carbon...

Carbon-rich soils a.k.a. soils rich in organic matter actually hold onto more nutrients so that less of these nutrient salts are dissolved into the soil water, these nutrients can still be accessed by plants but the key difference is that they are not immediately available and saturating the root zone with, –salt.


Wrapping up

  • If you want the best possible lawn results...

  • If you want to choose a more responsible method of lawn care...

  • If you want more value per dollar spent...

Then choose an organic lawn care program.

In Kingston, Renew-a-lawn can provide the same fast results of synthetic, combined with all the added benefits of organic so you can have the best-looking lawn and feel proud about your healthy lawn choice.

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