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Organic and Inorganic Fertilisers

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Organic and Inorganic Fertilisers A fertiliser is a chemical or natural substance added to soil to increase its fertility. (From The Concise Oxford English Dictionary.) Organic fertilisers are derived from animal or plant remains that decompose on or in the soil, slowly releasing mineral ions. Inorganic fertilisers are manufactured and consist of mineral ions and are usually sprayed onto soil in solution. Fertilisers are needed because in natural ecosystems, decomposition recycles mineral ions whereas with crops the plants are removed at harvest and therefore the minerals are removed and not replaced. All growing crops require nutrients to stimulate photosynthesis and growth throughout the growing season. (Arable Handbook brochure from Kemira Grow-How.) Some of which are more important than others. The major nutrients are nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. The secondary nutrients are calcium, sulphur, magnesium and sodium and the trace elements are manganese, iron, selenium, copper, cobalt, boron, zinc and iodine. (Multi-choice leaflet from Carrs Fertilisers.) Proportions of elements required for healthy plant growth Of the elements required for healthy plant growth, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen account for 96? - 45? carbon, 45% oxygen and 6% hydrogen. Fig 1: - A graph to show proportions of the elements required for healthy plant growth (The Organic Garden Book by Geoff Hamilton) ...read more.


This is because the microbes in the soil use Nitrogen to break down the carbon in the straw, so rather than being leached it was diverted into microbes. So even though inorganic fertilisers are easily leached, there are methods of reducing it. (Arable Handbook brochure from Kemira Grow-How.) Another way for minerals to be lost is if inorganic fertiliser sprays are blown into other areas, this is a disadvantage of using sprays but being a spray makes applying the fertiliser onto fields easy which is a big advantage. Many organic fertilisers are difficult to spread, but there are organic liquid fertilisers available such as liquid seaweed. The main reason that many farmers use inorganic fertiliser sprays is because of the ease of use. On a large scale it can be very difficult to spread organic fertilisers, which means that more manpower would be needed which would mean higher labour costs. By using an inorganic spray, although they costs more to buy may save money because pesticides can be applied at the same time, costing the farmers less in labour costs as the work is much easier and takes less time. Significant loss of nitrates can also occur through ammonia volatilization; this is when nitrogen is lost into the atmosphere as ammonia gas. ...read more.


(http://www.gardenseeker.com/fertilizers.htm) A big disadvantage of inorganic fertilisers is that they may harm the soil or its inhabitants, especially if repeatedly used. Organic fertilisers actually benefit soil micro-organisms as well as plants. (The Organic Book by Geoff Hamilton) Organic fertilisers add to the structure of soil as humus. Humus is a dark brown organic substance resulting from particle decay of plant and animal matter. It improves soil by retaining moisture and increasing mineral and nutrient content and bacterial activity. In my opinion I think that most of time it is better to use organic fertilisers because there are more advantages than disadvantages of using it whereas I feel that there are more disadvantages than advantages of using inorganic fertilisers. I do agree that sometimes it may be better to use an inorganic fertilisers if the plant is deficient in many nutrients but I think its better to use organic fertilisers when used on a regular basis to maintain a high level of nutrients in the soil because of the beneficial effects it has on the soil structure, its slow release of nutrients, cost and especially because there is little leaching and is therefore not threatening the environment. If an inorganic fertiliser is used on a regular basis as well as being expensive can damage soil structures, and can easily leached which puts a threat on the environment. ...read more.

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