The name "inorganic fertilizer" may seem to suggest that the fertilizer is not natural. This type of fertilizer actually also contains natural compounds. The difference is that the formula is put together in a refinery, rather than composed by nature as it occurs with organic fertilizers. For example, manure is a type of organic fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizer also contains beneficial chemical and mineral deposits and supplies the nutrients necessary to grow plants. This type of fertilizer can be bought at most gardening supply stores.
Inorganic fertilizer, which is often reasonably priced, consists of mineral-based nutrients manufactured for immediate application on crops. Unlike the organic variety, inorganic fertilizer does not need to decompose over time to supply nutrients to plants. Most inorganic fertilizers contain balanced amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to feed plants and to foster growth. These substances often derive from chemical processes such as urea, ammonium sulfate, and calcium nitrate. Mined deposits of potash, phosphate rock, and lime can also be processed as inorganic fertilizer.
Some gardeners find inorganic fertilizer handy for salvaging malnourished plants because the phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen mix can provide instant treatment. Overall, the nutrients of inorganic fertilizer help nourish a plant's roots, stems, shoots, leaves, and blooms. Depending on the crop, these fertilizers must be applied at least twice within a given growing season for effective plant growth. Gardeners generally use their hands or a gardening applicator to evenly distribute chemical fertilizer over soil according to package instructions. Fertilization with broadcast spreaders or other tools ensures that plants get equal amounts of nutrients from the inorganic fertilizer.
Inorganic fertilizers provide some advantages such as affordability, convenience, and effectiveness in nourishing plants. Disadvantages also apply when using chemical-based fertilizers. For instance, a process known as leeching occurs from over-watering. Too much water causes the fertilizer to wash away, thereby depriving the plants of some of their vital nutrients.
Another problem may arise when a gardener uses too much inorganic fertilizer. Besides the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium nutrients, fertilizer also contains other chemicals and salts. The salts and compounds that mix with nutrients often build up in soil rather than absorb into a plant's roots. The buildup eventually becomes toxic and poses a threat to human health if it contaminates groundwater supply.
Adding too much of the inorganic fertilizer also burns or kills the plants and their roots. It is important to add the exact amount to the soil and refrain from applying the fertilizer to any part of plants. Overall, experts note that inorganic fertilizer offers just as many benefits as organic fertilizer. It is generally safe to use as long as a gardener follows directions.