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Organic farming stresses on using organic inputs. Hence, it is mandatory for products like pesticides and fertilizers in organic farming to be free from chemicals.
As a result, the introduction of naturally occurring fertilizers improves soil quality and enhances the nutrition of the crops. Of course, the organic farming fertilizers used is a factor of the soil’s natural nutrient content and the pH. Hence, before the use of any fertilizers in organic farming, farmers are advised to get their soil tested.
This article takes a look at the standard fertilizers used in organic farming, along with their benefits:
Large-scale organic farmers typically use mass-produced and certified organic fertilizers. However, organic gardening enthusiasts and small-scale farmers use the following fertilizers while organic farming:
Cow or chicken manure is one of the most prevalent organic farming fertilizers used. The agricultural use of manure goes back more than 8,000 years ago and finds its origin in Europe, from where it spread out to the entire world. It was particularly useful for those rearing livestock alongside farming.
The nutritional content of manure depends on its source, age, and bedding material. Typically, manure is composted for 180 days (6 months) or until fully composted. While poultry manure has higher nitrogen content (NPK: 3-1-1), cattle or horse manures have NPK in the ratio of 2-1-1. Manure continues to fertilize the soil for several years to come. It may also contain seeds, which will cause weeds to sprout up.
Compost is yet another staple fertilizer of organic farming. It introduces organic matter into the soil and feeds the microbe biome to boost the soil’s fertility and water holding capacity. Breaking down plant or vegetable residue will yield a salt-balanced compost that can improve soil health and supplying micronutrients to plants. Compost generally contains NPK in a 2-1-1 ratio. However, the ratio is subject to change depending on the organic material.
Liquid kelp fertilizer for organic farming is prepared by plucking out the aquatic plant and cold processing it. The resultant liquid is then mixing with water and applied using a foliar spray or through soil drenching.
It contains very little potassium and nitrogen, but it packs quite a punch by stimulating plant growth. The hormones present in liquid kelp accelerate the growth of plants and improves their flowering. Furthermore, it allows plants to thrive even in adverse weather and climatic conditions, such as a prolonged period of sun exposure and even ice formation! Liquid kelp also delivers long-term effects to the soil by improving its health.
Processing fish or fish byproducts using acid, enzyme, or heat treatment results in the formation of a fish emulsion. This fish emulsion is used as a fertilizer in organic farming. Naturally, it emits a powerful and revolting odour, except in the case of fish emulsions prepared using enzymes. Regardless, fish-based organic fertilizers are highly rich in macronutrients with an NPK ratio of 5-2-2. It also contains trace elements of other useful minerals that can replenish the soil.
If you have been feeding your livestock alfalfa, you may have noticed an improvement in their weight and coat quality. Alfalfa benefits the plants and soil just as it does to the animals. It contains NPK in the ratio of 2-1-2, along with other trace micronutrients. Apart from promoting crop health, this fertilizer for organic farming improves soil quality by feeding the microbes present in it. However, it takes about four months for these microbes to break down the nutrients and make it available to the soil.
Agricultural lime, aka aglime, is a natural fertilizer that also restores the pH of the soil. As a fertilizer, it increases the bioavailability of macros (NPK) through stimulating the microbial activities. Additionally, it also supplies other minerals, such as sulphur, calcium, and magnesium, and prevents the leaching of these minerals into the soil.
Do bear in mind that you would need to treat your soil with aglime only when your soil is acidic in nature. Additionally, the amount of limestone that needs to be added also depends on the level of acidity of the soil. Otherwise, limestone would make your soil too basic.
Bone meal is an extremely nutritious fertilizer in organic farming due to its high phosphorus content. On average, the NPK ratio of bone meal is at 3-15-0. However, the phosphorus takes about a few months to break down and become available to the plants. Additionally, the availability of phosphorus is at its highest when the soil pH is around 6-7.
Blood meal is another byproduct of slaughtering houses that may be present at the farm. Blood meal is rich in nitrogen, with an NPK ratio as high as 12-0-0. However, it does have high levels of ammonia, which may burn the crop.
Fertilizers are a vital component of organic farming. The natural fertilizers listed above are fairly common and help promote sustainability. These are also eco-friendly as they prevent leaching or pollution.
Try 24 Mantra Organic’s range of products and savour the taste of organic goodness.
Super Delicious Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe