Are there limitations to using organic fertilizers?

So you’re considering using an organic fertilizer in your turf health program? Excellent! There are a lot of wonderful things that an organic fertilizer can do for the health of your plants: including balancing the soil ecosystem and boosting plant health naturally. By going organic you can better deal with government regulations and you’re also able to market your organization to constituents that you’re going organic. However, what are the disadvantages?


The biggest disadvantage to utilizing an organic fertilizer is whether or not it contains any primary nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Manure based fertilizers contain nutrients and are still considered organic, but many other organic fertilizers don’t contain significant quantities (organic fertilizers that don't contain NPK are classified as soil amendments). Because NPK directly affects plant growth by feeding the plant, results are typically fast. However, if a product doesn’t contain any NPK and is otherwise classified as a soil amendment, it affects plant growth indirectly. With soil amendments you’re affecting the soil structure, allowing the plant to absorb and retain water and nutrients more efficiently but aren’t directly feeding the plant. Instead, you’re relying on either the beneficial microorganisms already present in the soil or those present in the product, to convert nitrogen and feed the plant.

For a turf professional, using organic fertilizers without NPK could mean slower results. While results will come, your constituents are used to that immediate pop of green color expected in a lawn (okay not immediate, but you get the idea!). Therefore, if you’re considering using organic fertilizers that don’t contain naturally occurring NPK, look into a hybrid program. A hybrid turf care program contains small doses of synthetic fertilizers in conjunction with organic fertilizers. In this way, you’re getting the immediate results you expect while still getting all the benefits by using organic fertilizers. 

P.S. Above zinnia was treated with Holganix Bloom - West Chester, Pennsylvania

Turf roots

Posted by Kaitlyn Ersek on Apr 2, 2015 6:30:00 AM

Kaitlyn Ersek

Topics: lawn care, sports turf, golf course

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