Organic vs. Inorganic – It’s All About Balance
Fertilizing natural grass is a common cultural practice for any sports turf manager or homeowner looking for aesthetically pleasing, quality turfgrass surfaces.
Organic or inorganic, what’s best for you? Depending on your budget, your desire to be socially responsible and your field’s needs. Each fertilizer may have various benefits for you and your fertility program. Need help deciding what to apply this upcoming season? Take a look at our breakdown of the pros and cons of both organic and inorganic fertilizers.
Organic – a fertilizer derived from a plant, animal or human source.
Pros – Organic fertilizers are less likely to burn your field. Since the nutrients in organic fertilizers need to be converted to nitrogen by the fungi and bacteria in the soil, the fertilizer is slower to release. The best time to apply organic fertilizers is in late spring or early fall when the soil temperature hovers around 50 degrees. Organic fertilizers are considered to be a safer application because of the slow-release and they typically don’t need to be watered in.
Secondly, organic fertilizers are great for those in close proximity to environmentally sensitive areas or for those who value eco-friendly solutions for their organization. Using organic fertilizers is a social practice that people can get behind because it’s reusing and recycling materials that would otherwise be waste.
Cons – Possibly the biggest disadvantage to using an organic fertilizer is the cost, for both labor and product. In most cases, organic fertilizers are going to contain less nitrogen than inorganic. This could cause you to apply upwards of double or triple the amount of organic product than inorganic. Additionally, organic fertilizers cost more. Because of this, you may be spending more on labor to apply the product and more on the product.
Inorganic – Synthetic or inorganic fertilizers are manufactured but they still come from natural sources, like mineral deposits.
Pros – Inorganic fertilizers can be custom-made to fit your soils needs. Fertilizer is comprised of three basic components: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen promotes plant growth; phosphorus promotes root growth and the potassium promotes plant heath. If you’re in a region that already has high levels of phosphorus or doesn’t allow fertilizers that contain high levels of phosphorus, utilizing an inorganic fertilizer allows you to tailor the product to your needs.
Secondly, inorganic fertilizers can be utilized for quick fixes. Say your field is hit hard after a week of wet field conditions and soccer games. Synthetic or inorganic fertilizers can create a quicker turf response, whether you need fast grow up or you need new seeds to take root ASAP.
Cons – While inorganic fertilizers may be more flexible and useful for larger case instances, they’re not typically viewed as the most environmentally conscious decision. Secondly, they have a higher potential to burn your turfgrass. Lastly, inorganic fertilizers will do little to affect your soil’s ecosystem or structure.
In closing, there are great products and innovations on either side of this debate. Before making a fertilizer program decision, conduct a soil test to determine which solution will fit your needs better. The soil test will help you determine your field’s nutrients needs for the season.
If your organization is looking to be eco-friendlier, than organic fertilizers are a good option to achieve that. Just communicate what that change will mean for your budget. A blend between organic and inorganic could be a balanced option to help meet your field’s nutritional needs. When you experience seasonal swings or field damage, be open to utilizing either fertilizer to help bring your field back to life.
For more seasonal turf tips be sure to like us on Facebook so you never miss an update!