Cannabis Fertilizers: Chemicals and Organic
Have you ever wondered which compost is best for your cannabis plants? Advantages and disadvantages of organic and chemical fertilizers.
When we talk about compost or fertilizer we refer to any substance, organic or inorganic, used to provide nutrients to the soil. They aim to increase the concentration of nutrients favoring and enhancing the growth of plants.
Plants in general need about fourteen chemical elements for their full development. The difference between organic and synthetic fertilizers lies in the raw materials used to obtain these elements, as well as their respective advantages and disadvantages.
What is a chemical or synthetic fertilizer?
Chemical fertilizers come from non-renewable raw materials extracted from Earth (mineral sources) or are produced by chemical processes based on petroleum derivatives, ammonia, synthetic nitrates, salts of urea, sulfur, coal and phosphate mineral.
Advantages of chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
Synthetic fertilizers are characterized by higher solubility. They release nutrients very quickly and plants can absorb them immediately. They are products with an exact proportion of each nutrient.
They are ideal for hydroponic crops or on sterile substrates, where organic fertilizers can cause obstructions in equipment and deficiencies due to the lack of microorganisms that break down complex molecules.
With the passage of time, chemical or synthetic fertilizers damage worms and soil microorganisms, altering the symbiotic microbe-plant relationships. These microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, algae ...) are responsible for breaking down organic matter into compounds that can be assimilated by plants.
Chemical or synthetic fertilizers do not provide organic matter and little by little the microorganisms die since they cannot perform their decomposition function. Plants end up becoming more dependent on these products.
Another drawback is the accumulation of salts in the soil, these become acidic, losing quality and fertility. This type of fertilizer is very soluble which can cause over-fertilization problems by “burning” the plants. In addition, the nutrients are easily washed away, polluting ecosystems such as wells, aquifers, rivers, and so on.
For example, nitrogen and phosphorus cause algal blooms and fish kills.
Let's look at some data to get an idea:
12-15% of nitrates will remain in the soil for up to 28 years after application.
Between 61 and 65% is used by plants. Between 8 and 12% seeps into the subsoil passing into groundwater.
In relation to cannabis, it must be taken into account that chemical fertilizers can leave traces on our plants. Especially if a good root wash is not carried out, it will affect the flavor of our harvest by leaving harsher artificial flavors or even leaving a bad taste.
What are organic fertilizers?
Organic fertilizers come from renewable, environmentally friendly sources. They are compounds of vegetable or animal origin such as bone meal, fish meal, algae, manure, bat guano and mainly composted vegetable matter.
Advantages of organic fertilizers
Organic fertilizers provide a much wider range of nutrients and micronutrients.
These fertilizers break down more slowly, releasing the nutrients little by little. This makes it more difficult to over-fertilize and burn the plants. Organic matter decomposes due to the action of microorganisms in the soil. These release the nutrients in an ionic shape, assimilable by plants.
Composts or organic fertilizers help maintain microbial life, thus favoring aeration, moisture retention, improving soil structure and increasing fertility. In addition, the nutrients are not easily washed off since they are retained in the organic matter.
In recent decades, research and improvement of organic fertilizers has made it possible to equal the cultivation results to those obtained with synthetic fertilizers in terms of production. On the other hand, we will obtain crops with much better flavors than with chemical fertilizers, more natural, with less overload of salts, softer.
One drawback of organic fertilizers can be their slow release of nutrients. They need time in the soil or substrate to begin to be effective.
As we have already mentioned, this type of fertilizer is not usually suitable for hydroponics or crops on sterile substrates such as coconut.
Nitrates, both of chemical and organic origin, are harmful to health and related to a lot of diseases. Its excessive and uncontrolled use negatively affects the entire ecosystem, including plants and animals. Let's be responsible!
Whatever you choose, make sure they are quality products, free of contaminants and have all the corresponding certificates.