What is the difference between organic and synthetic nutrients?
Conventional or synthetic fertilizers are created from natural sources of nutrients using manufactured processes. Conventional fertilizers provide nutrients in a concentrated form that plants can readily use.
Organic nutrient sources include legumes, animal manure, compost and crop residues. Organic nutrients are slowly released as materials decompose. Compost and manure provide additional benefits, such as increasing organic matter which contributes to building healthy soil.
Why don’t all farmers use nutrients from organic sources?
Many farmers choose to apply conventional fertilizers to crops because they don’t have access to large amounts of organic nutrients and/or they prefer conventional fertilizer because it is more precise - the exact nutrient content is known and the fertilizer releases the nutrients when the plants need it the most.
If farmers have livestock, they will often use a combination and put manure on crops nearby but supplement with conventional fertilizer to ensure the right balance of nutrients.