The ongoing battle between “organic” and “synthetic” products has been raging for some time, and undoubtedly will for many years to come. It generally comes down to a case-by-case question, as to which is better.
But when it comes to fertilizer, there is very little argument. Synthetic chemical fertilizers are outright harmful to your lawn and to the planet itself, with very few arguments in favor of their use. There might be some merit to the notion of “better living through chemistry,” but when it comes to the natural cycles of growth on Earth, there really is nothing better than natural organic fertilizers.
Top Four Reasons Chemical Fertilizers Are A Bad Idea
1 – Creating and storing them is truly dangerous.
One of the main ingredients in chemical fertilizer is ammonia nitrate. What else is ammonia nitrate used in? Bombs. This isn’t even hyperbole. Remember that 2013 “chemical explosion” in West, Texas, that killed 15 people? Well, guess what they sold.
2 – Too many nutrients is a bad thing.
The few proponents of chemical fertilizers point at how organic fertilizers break down in the soil over time as proof that chemicals are “better.” The problem is, fertilizer should break down. Chemical fertilizers can end up saturating your lawn in chemicals, creating a too-much-of-a-good-thing situation. Plus, it can run-off into nearby water sources, creating deadly algae blooms or worse.
3 – Nitrates increase soil acidity.
Frequent use of nitrate-based fertilizers can lower your soil Ph by a full point, requiring the use of even more chemicals to counteract that. Otherwise, they can make the soil downright inhospitable.
4 – Needless fossil fuel use.
Yes, most chemical fertilizers use fossil fuels, either directly or as part of their production process. So every time someone dumps a bag of synthetic fertilizer on their lawn, they’re directly contributing to global warming and peak oil depletion.
Now, in fairness to chemical fertilizers, there is one thing worth mentioning in their favor: They’re very fast-acting, because they don’t have to organically break down within the lawn before they become active. So in cases of an extremely unhealthy or neglected planting, a chemical fertilizer treatment can act like a dose of strong medicine and become a lifesaver.
But also like strong medicine, it should be used only when absolutely necessary. The rest of the time, organic fertilizers are better for plants, better for your lawn, and better for the planet.