Organic Vs Syntehtic

Definitions of Organic and Synthetic:

1. A fertilizer that is derived from animal or vegetable matter.
2. Constitutional in the structure of something.
3. Relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis.
4. Of or relating to or derived from living organisms.

1. A compound made artificially by chemical reactions.
2. Not genuine or natural.
3. Not of Natural origin; prepared or made artificially.
(Definitions provided by

Some examples of organic fertilizer components would be corn gluten meal, which because of its high protein content is a great organic nitrogen source. Alfalfa meal contains a very balanced nutrition as well as naturally occurring . bio-stimulants. Animal waste products, compost, and unrefined minerals are also classed as organic fertilizer inputs under the fertilizer act in Canada.

An example of a synthetic fertilizer input would be urea. This common nitrogen source is famous for its quick release and soluble nature. Phosphoric acid and potash are also the most common phosphorus and potassium ingredients in synthetic fertilizers.

Synthetic fertilizers are by definition not natural. They are specifically designed to feed a plant a certain amount of specific nutrients. In many cases these nutrients are not balanced with other nutritional needs of the plant and are leached away with rain or volatized into the atmosphere because of their soluble nature. This is not to say that synthetic fertilizers cannot be used in a positive way. When used in a balanced program they can provide significant plant nutrients, especially in soils with little or changing microbial activity. Unfortunately synthetic fertilizers overall cause damage to soil nutrient cycling as well as promote a rash of pest problems. Sudden increases or decreases in things such as soluble nitrogen can increase fungi populations that attack and weaken the plant. This weakening can also leave a plant susceptible to insect or drought pressures that may not have been an issue if the plant was not under stress to start with. Synthetics also do nothing for improving soil texture or tilth. Texture and tilth are very important to the overall health of the plant.

Now organic fertilizers react very differently when used. They provide well-balanced non-leaching nutrients that are all plant-available. Getting plant available nutrients is the real goal. If you consider that organic fertilizers are derived from other living things then it would only make sense that they contain a more rounded nutrient base since they would contain all the nutrients required for a plant to grow. They not only feed the plant that we are fertilizing but they feed the microbes in the soil that break down organic matter, feed the plant, as well as improving the soil conditions the plant is growing in. This is why natural forests or Prairies can exist without inputs from man. They just continue cycling the nutrients that are natively available and because these organic nutrients don’t leach, they don’t wash away like a synthetic nutrient would. In many ways organic fertilizers are building soils and it is the soils that are feeding the plants. Just like synthetic fertilizers however they have certain limitations. In soils with low microbial activity, organic fertilizers sometimes need some help from our synthetic friends at least until this microbial activity can be increased. Also because organic fertilizers generally have lower concentrations of the major plant nutrients than synthetics, larger quantities of organic fertilizers are required per acre than their synthetic counterpart. This can create budgetary issues, especially when dealing with larger acreages.

Therefore if we are going to use synthetic fertilizers they need to be used responsibly since they do pose an environmental risk to both soil and microbes. In the case of IPM, our goals really should be to integrate as much organic fertilizers into our nutrient programs as budgets and nutrient conditions will allow.