Difference Between Organic and Inorganic Fertilizer

Organic vs Inorganic Fertilizer

The difference between organic and inorganic fertilizer can be discussed under various perspectives. Before that, fertilizers are substances normally used for improving the plant nutrients. The success of farming mainly depends on the growth of a crop. There are a number of factors that influenced the crop growth. Plant nutrients are an important group out of them. It is important to supply an adequate quantity of a particular nutrient for plant growth and it depends on both the behavior of that nutrient in the soil as well as the utilizing capacity of the crop root system. If these elements are not available in an optimum amount to the plant that will adversely affect to the plant growth and quantity and quality of the yield. One of the main characters of fertilizers is that it can replace the chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops. This may lead to enhancing the natural fertility of the soil.

Fertilizers come in organic or inorganic forms to the market. But now it is recommended that the Integrated Farming should be used. This is a new approach to plant nutrition by obtaining the nutrients from both inorganic and organic sources to maintain and sustain soil fertility and enhance crop productivity.

What are Organic Fertilizer?

Organic fertilizers are fertilizers derived from animal or vegetable matter as well as human excreta. It contains all essential plant nutrients and the nutrients release is enhanced by the warm and moisture levels of the soil. Either byproduct or end product of naturally degradable plant or animal-based materials, undergo a decomposition process to produce organic fertilizers. When the decomposition starts the parts of its organic manure first degrade into primary nutrients and further decomposition results in secondary nutrients too. When applying organic fertilizers, it is important to avoid materials that contain high C: N ratio, as it is not suitable for the plant growth and it should be applied and buried in the soil to get the maximum benefit. So, legumes and composite plants that contain high Nitrogen are not used as decomposing materials.

• Examples of green manure – Sun hemp, Sesbania rostrata, Gliricidia,wild sunflower.

• Examples of Animal origin – dung, urine, grasses and feed stuff, bedding of animals.

Difference Between Organic and Inorganic Fertilizer


What are Inorganic Fertilizers?

Inorganic fertilizers are also known as synthetic fertilizers and they are ready to use in plants. These synthetic fertilizers come in single-nutrient or multi-nutrient formulas. There are 16 nutrient elements considered as essential for plant growth. They divide into two categories; primary elements and secondary elements. Modern chemical fertilizers include most important primary elements, which are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Secondary important elements are sulfur, magnesium, and calcium. When applying the inorganic fertilizers, it is important to consider about its concentration because high nutrient levels increase the risk of burning the plant. Another disadvantage of inorganic fertilizer is the rapid release of elements, which reach deeply into the soil and water, but plants cannot access them. Some of the advantages of inorganic fertilizer are cheaper in the short term and it adds less to the land in the long term. Moreover, it is easier to use and prepare.

Organic vs Inorganic Fertilizer

Nitrogen fertilizer application

What is the difference between Organic and Inorganic Fertilizer?

• Inorganic fertilizers contain synthetic materials but, organic fertilizers contain naturally degradable compounds.

• Generally, high application rates are necessary for organic fertilizer but,comparatively fewer amounts are needed for inorganic fertilizer.

• Organic manure increase the quality of soil, but yield will be lower. Comparatively heavy applications of inorganic fertilizer can burn plants and excess use of fertilizer may cause toxicity in the soil.

• Organic manure is not harmful to the land and it improves the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the soil but, singular use of chemical fertilizers has an adverse effect on the soil structure.

• Application of organic manure helps to prevent soil erosion as it forms water stable aggregates.

• Availability of nutrients from organic manure is long lasting.

Use of both chemical and organic fertilizers together gives more benefits than applying them separately which increase physical and microbiological properties of the soil. This will increase the availability of nutrients as well.


Images Courtesy: 

  1. Compost by FlickreviewR (CC BY 2.0)
  2. Nitrogen fertilizer application by Michael Trolove (CC BY-SA 2.0)