Difference Between Fertilizer and Compost

Fertilizer vs Compost

Whether you are planning a garden in your backyard or continuing the family tradition of farming, it is essential for you to know the difference between fertilizer and compost. Both of these products are needed at different stages in gardening to make the soil more fertile as also to make the plants healthier. However, the ingredients are different in fertilizers and compost. The method of using them is also different. This article intends to explain the two products highlighting their difference.


Fertilizers are nourishment for plants. Plants get these from the soil where the nutrients from the fertilizer get absorbed. The ingredients of fertilizers are meant to fulfill the requirements of the plants. Contrary to popular belief that they make the soil fertile, it has been found that fertilizers hamper with the growth of microbial organisms that are considered vital for the health of the soil. Thus, excessive use of fertilizers year after year can throw the chemistry of the soil out of balance and actually reduce the fertility of the soil. This bad effect is felt more in the case of chemical fertilizers than if organic fertilizers have been used. The ingredients in a fertilizer help in growing larger flowers and vegetables. In a lawn where thick grass is required, fertilizers have to be used. Phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium are the essential elements in a fertilizer. Some other elements added in fertilizer depending upon requirement are magnesium, sulfur, and calcium.


Compost is actually food for soil and not the plants. It is full of ingredients that increase the fertility of the soil. This obviously has the result of improving plant and grass production. Decayed organic matter such as plants and soil mixed together are called compost. Used tea bags, egg shells, plant clippings, dried leaves falling in autumn, sow dung, horse manure and similar organic material, when mixed with soil makes compost. Compost is helpful in promoting microbial growth in the soil that makes the soil healthier. Soil becomes rich in nutrients and improves growth of plants and vegetables. It even provides food for plants growing on it. Compost helps in carrying much needed moisture to the soil and helps in increasing disease resistance of the plants.


What is the difference between Fertilizer and Compost?

• Compost is organic in nature, whereas fertilizers can be both organic as well as chemically made.

• Compost is food for soil while fertilizer is food for plants.

• Fertilizer can hamper with growth of microbial growth that is essential for the health of the soil if used excessively or year after year. On the other hand, compost helps to increase the fertility of the soil thus improving overall yield.

• In a sense, compost is a very good fertilizer as it helps in growth of microbes that improve the fertility of the soil.