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What to Look for in an Organic Fertilizer

As the organic food market becomes increasingly popular, the demand for organic fertilizer also increases. While many types of organic fertilizer are constructed out of the things that might give the connotation of “organic” -- such as seaweed, mulch compounds, or even compost elements -- organic fertilizer can also be manufactured in a lab or in a factory. Organic simply means that it contains carbon compounds, which are generally larger and more complex than inorganic compounds.

Organic fertilizer that is created through composting is generally created out of decomposed plant and animal wastes, such as manure or leaves. These different natural wastes are fit tightly into bins, where they are acted on by fungi and bacteria that break them down into a soil-like mixture that can be used as high-nutrient plant feed.

In contrast, an organic variety that is created in a factory is usually first tested extensively in a lab. Once the technicians have determined the best mix of macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – for a given plant; and have combined that data with the best mix of micronutrients – calcium, magnesium, and sulfur -- for that same plant (which varies considerably), they will then develop a chemical fertilizer and send the input instructions to the factory, where the organic fertilizer will be manufactured chemically and packaged.

Regardless of whether this fertilizer is composed of purely natural compounds – and even non-decomposed items, such as seaweed – chemical compounds (as in the lab/factory example), or compost made out of natural wastes, it can still be just as effective if the macronutrient levels are reasonably correct; and if the micronutrient levels are carefully designed to meet the needs of the plants you have decided to put in your garden or on your farm.


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