With the advent of rapid modernization and the advancement of industrialization, harmful chemical toxins are added to the natural resources like air and water every day. Human beings are capable of tolerating chemicals in their body only up to a certain level. But, with the alarming increase in the level of the pollutants, that limit is slowly being overtaken in many of the cases.
With this, comes the inevitable use of chemicals in the agricultural sector. Indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and most importantly, fertilizers in the crop fields are responsible for various health hazards in human beings, and other complications like development of insecticide resistant pests, crops containing huge traces of the chemicals which when eventually consumed, may even become fatal. This leaves us with the option of organic farming. Organic farming emphasizes cultivation in such a way that it sustains enriching soil, plants and beneficial insects at the same time.
This can only be achieved by discarding the use of chemical inorganic fertilizers and pesticides, and instead, using products which nurture the garden soil and the organisms within it.
What is Organic Fertilizer?
Organic fertilizers are the fertilizers derived from animal matter, animal excreta (also known as manure), human excreta and vegetable matter, like compost and crop residues. Some organic fertilizers are manufactured naturally and do not need further processing, such as, liver and stomach from meat and fish industries and vegetable and fruit peels from domestic households.
Sources of Organic Fertilizer –
· Animal Sources – Animal sources for organic fertilizers include both the excreta of animals and residues from the slaughter of animals. The most important contributors in this field are dairy industry, egg industry and poultry industry. The inedible by-products of animal slaughter like blood, bone, feather, hide, hoof and horn can be processed and refined into agricultural fertilizers like blood meal, fish meal, bone meal and feather meal. However, chicken litter, which consists of excreta of chicken mixed with sawdust, is the most superior organic fertilizer for conditioning soil for harvest, even more than chemical and synthetic fertilizers.
· Plant Sources – The components of processed organic plant based fertilizers include compost, humid acid of humus and sea weed extracts. Other examples might include decomposing crop residue and enzyme digested proteins.
· Treated Sewage Sludge – The sewage sludge, also known as bio-solids, are collected from domestic households and then they are treated, blended, composted and sometimes dried until it is biologically safe for plants to consume. The harmful bacteria and other compounds are thus eliminated from the sewage by repeated treatment. Still, as a fertilizer it is of the inferior type and thus is only used in crops planted for silviculture or planting for soil remediation programmers. Use of sewage sludge in agriculture is less common.
Advantages of using organic fertilizer over chemical fertilizer –
Immediately shifting to the field of organic farming leaving behind traditional farming is the need of the hour for sustainable development and a secured future. Organic fertilizer is the most important component in the sector of organic farming, since it is impossible to grow good crops and have a good yield with bad health of the soil in which it is growing. The functions and advantages of organic fertilizers are immense, some of which include –
· Due to the presence of organic matter in the organic fertilizer, soil structure is improved and as a result the soil’s ability to hold onto water and nutrients increase.
· An organic fertilizer not only provides nutrients to the plants but also helps in the development and formation of the soil. In the long run, it reduces the need of fertilizers as a whole and improves the soil.
· Synthetic fertilizers consist of chemical toxins devoid of carbon. Thus, they are not accessible to microbes and in some cases, they even kill them. For the microorganisms to thrive and make the soil healthy, organic fertilizers are the only alternatives available.
· The impact of environmental pollution of the synthetic fertilizers is immense and they are potential threats for excessive water and soil pollution. Organic fertilizers are completely environment friendly with no such consequences.
However, some drawbacks of organic fertilizers such as extremely slow reaction time, low level of nutrients, very complex methods of manufacturing and immensely expensive nature should also be kept in mind before applying on the crop fields.