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sythetic fert?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by timturf, Dec 14, 2003.

  1. Since the plant doesn't know the difference between a natural organic fert and a sythetis fert, what is wrong with a sythetic fertilizer?

  2. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,697

    Not a thing.....as far as the grass is concerned.
  3. woodycrest

    woodycrest LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 435

    The soil knows the difference.
  4. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    With the relatively recent discovery of 400 times as many species of soil microbe species as was previously thought to exist, the field of soil dynamic is suddenly wide open after hundreds of years. Most of that research ignores the interaction of the plants with soil microbes because the few species of soil microbes that reproduced in the laboratory were thought to be insignificant to the plants. Well, maybe those were, but what about the 24,900 other species in the garden?

    I hope to see research in the near future that overturns the idea that the plants use the same chemicals regardless of their source. I think the NPK mentality we have had for well over 100 years is waaaay oversimplified. Heck (pardon my French) but all we need to support our bodies is sugar, protein, and a little fat. Why do we not simply eat refined sugar, tofu, and a sip of fat every day? It ain't that easy. We also need vitamins, minerals, and the unnamed microbes we have inside our bodies working to support our digestive systems.

    I've said this many times, and I don't mind saying it again. Here's a list of things an organic program can do that no chemical can do. The beneficial microbes in the soil do the following.
    1. Decompose plant residues and manure to humus.
    2. Retain nutrients in humus.
    3. Combine nitrogen and carbon to prevent nutrient loss.
    4. Suppress disease.
    5. Produce plant growth regulators.
    6. Develop soil structure, tilth, and water penetration/retention.
    7. Clean up chemical residues.
    8. Shift soil pH to neutral and keep it there.
    9. Search out and retrieve nutrients in distant parts of the soil.
    10. Decompose thatch and keep it from returning.
    11. Control nitrogen supply to the plants according to need.
    12. Pull minerals out of inorganic soil components for plants.
    13. Provide the exact chemical nutrients to the plant that the plant has evolved with rather than man's cheapest chemical approximation.
    14. Provide exactly the required quantity of nutrients that the plant needs.
    15. Provide the nutrients at exactly the right time that the plant needs them.

    Item numbers 11, 13, 14, and 15 are the ones which apply to plants directly. The rest deal with soil mechanics. No chemical can do any of those things. It takes a living thing to interact with another living thing to do any of those. To be fair, no single microbe can do all of that either. In fact, it could be that it takes 100 or 1000 different species, one working right after the other, to do any one item in the above list - sort of like a microbiological assembly line. But at least it's real easy to get all the right microbes. The biology of the soil is very complicated.

    At the same time, many chemicals inhibit the microbe's natural abilities to do these things. Herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides are all designed to kill various biological life. As a byproduct, they often kill off the beneficial microbes that are doing 1 through 15 above. Any break in the assembly line can interrupt the process, damage the mini ecosystem, and lessen the benefit of the organic methods. I currently believe that chemical fertilizers, properly applied, will do less damage to the microbes; however, there are organic researchers trying to convince me otherwise. So watch this space over the next few years and we'll see how that comes out.
  5. david,

    you said, " chemical fert ( i'm assuming sythetic), properly applied, will do less damage to the microbes....." but will damage the microbes to some degree? What in the sythetic fert causes the damage?

  6. Ok david,

    nobody else is answering my question, so it's up to you
    what in the sythetic fert cause damage to the microbes?

  7. heritage

    heritage LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,358

    Using synthetic fertilizers is committing biocide.......This is what I am reading in a Organic soil fertility management book. If we are killing soil microbes when we fertilize with synthetics.....is this such a bad thing And are we killing all of them or just a few?
    When NH4 is converted to NO3, isn't it done with the help of soil microbes? If we are killing these microbes then how does the Mineralization occur? If using synthetics was so bad then how come whe are still allowed to use them?
    How about Nitroform (UF) Synthetic Fert. Its got carbon but it's man made........I love this product! Am I doing harm when I use it?
    Soil microbes eat this stuff and what they excrete becomes available to the plant as a nitrogen source.....is this bad because it is a synthetic organic? If there are better products that are organic (natural ) that I can deep root feed into an ornamental plants root zone I would like to know what that product is also.

    Pete D
  8. someboby help heritage and timturf!

    what's in the sythetic fert that kills the microbes?

    I like uf also

    what organic soil book are you reading?

  9. Hamons

    Hamons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 706

    Ok -- I haven't weighed in on this very good quesiton because I have been doing some research. Essentially what I hace found is whole lot of words with no research to back it up:

    Things that I hjave read but cannot backup with research:

    The salts in synthetic ferts kill microbes.

    http://www.sugarlandgardenclub.org/Organic Fertilizers.doc

    Looking at Purdue and K-State -- I have been unable to find any research to back up the claims that Salt kills microbes.

    My synopsis from this research is that synthetics alone harm microbes because they do not feed them directly. By feeding the microbes directly with organic fertilizers we are increasing the numbers of microbes in the soil and therfore reaping there benefits.

    I think synthetics can coexist in a natural organic based program.
  10. Ok all you organic guys, what is wrong with sythetic fert, not what is good about organic (natural, once a living from plant or animal material)?


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