After deciding to greenify my life, I have been more conscious about even the smallest lifestyle choices I make every day. From how I dress, and how I shop, to how I travel, and what I eat. I now think twice about how I should go about them. Don’t even get me started on how I go grocery shopping! The typical trip to the grocery becomes a very thought-provoking activity to me. What looks tasty, or what fits the menu are no longer my only standards for the best grocery items. I now additionally consider their health factor and even their ethical and environmental aspects as well.
The fact that most fresh produce available in the market is grown with chemical fertilizers became more concerning to me. This concern especially came about after delving into the topic of sustainable gardening for last week’s blog.
It’s not news when it comes to the topic of the adverse effects of chemical fertilizers on the environment and human health as well. Researchers and experts have long studied and reported these adverse effects. Along these studies arose the potential of what they call biological fertilizers, also known as biofertilizers.
What is A Biological Fertilizer?
Biological fertilizers, or biofertilizers, are defined to be eco-friendly and renewable fertilizers that are considered key aspects of the practice of sustainable gardening and farming.
This natural fertilizer is a substance that contains living microorganisms that are activated through seed or soil interaction. Biofertilizers work by restoring soil fertility, improving soil water holding capacity, and generally improving soil quality. This, in the long run, helps improve plant growth, and when used in the agricultural sector, increases crop yield. These outcomes are achieved on top of the benefits of cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and healthier produce for its consumers.
Here is a list of microorganisms that are commonly used as biofertilizers:
- AMF (Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) – This provides plants with pathogen protection and other nutrients in exchange for photosynthetic products.
- Nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria – These are capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen to fixed nitrogen, the form usable to plants. Some examples of these bacteria are Rhizobium and Azotobacter.
- Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria (Anabaena) – These are also capable of nitrogen-fixing.
- PSMS (Phosphate solubilizing microbes) – These microorganisms are capable of converting organic and inorganic insoluble phosphorus compounds to a P form; one that is usable to plants.
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What is the Difference Between a Biofertilizer and a Chemical Fertilizer?
One of the biggest differences between biofertilizers and chemical fertilizers is their manner of supplying nutrients to plants. Chemical fertilizers directly supply nutrients to plants. Due to its soluble form, plants are quickly able to absorb chemical fertilizers. Also, the concentrated formulation of chemical fertilizers jam-packs even a small amount of its solution with nutrients and essential substances needed by plants. Biofertilizers, on the other hand, do not directly supply these much-needed nutrients the way chemical fertilizers do. They also do not carry as many nutrients as their chemical counterparts, leading to the need for increased fertilizer volume during application.
Biofertilizers, however, shine in other aspects when placed side-by-side with chemical fertilizers. Since they contain live microorganisms, they bring a more balanced nutrient supply to the plant and its soil; biofertilizers are a healthier source of nutrients for both plant and soil. Also, they are renewable, natural, and non-polluting.
Is There Any Difference Between Biofertilizers and Organic Fertilizers?
Biofertilizers and organic fertilizers differ, to some degree, when it comes to their composition.To the layman, these two terms are acceptably interchangeable and can mean the same thing. They are not entirely wrong though. Especially when we focus on the big umbrella of environment-friendliness, they can both fall under this same green category. What is incorrect, however, is the assumption that these two terms can be used interchangeably. They do have a difference, and this mostly lies in their composition. Manure, compost residues, and crop residues usually compose organic fertilizers. On the other hand, live microorganisms compose biofertilizers, as previously explained in the first section of this blog.
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Which Fertilizers are Eco-Friendly?
Natural fertilizers are the best examples of eco-friendly fertilizer alternatives. Biofertilizers and organic fertilizers are considered natural and eco-friendly because they are non-polluting and renewable. It is important to note, however, that when applied excessively or incorrectly, it can still have its drawbacks. Even green alternatives need careful and informed execution.
What are the Advantages of Biofertilizers?
Aside from the fact that biofertilizers are not hazardous to the environment, they can offer other benefits as well. Here are some noteworthy benefits:
- Biofertilizers are guaranteed to yield healthier more nutritious fresh produce.
- Biofertilizers can help suppress plant diseases and parasites.
- Biofertilizers encourage the growth of earthworms and other beneficial microorganisms.
- Biofertilizers are renewable because they are a natural form of fertilizer.
- Biofertilizers treat the soil by enhancing its biological activity.
What are the Disadvantages of Biofertilizers?
Biofertilizers pale in comparison to chemical fertilizers when to comes to their rate of nutrient release. Biofertilizers rely on naturally-occurring biological processes to do its nutrient releasing work, therefore, it works at a rate obviously slower compared to chemical fertilizers. For farmers and other agricultural growers to harness the potential of biofertilizer use, a great amount of planning and studying must be put into play. It would be best to consider biofertilizers as supplementary with other environmentally friendly fertilizers to ensure a more promising harvest.
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