The general public is one confused bunch about the use of organic (or non-chemical fertilizers) in the production of crops in the United States. Many state that these products are less expensive than those with “chemical” (or chemical fertilizer) additives, and they go on to promote their inclusion as a perfect way to grow healthy and prosperous crops. Others stick to the old mantra that organic fertilizers are more environmentally friendly and sustainable. If only they all knew that there was yet another factor that no one ever talks about: length of time required to extract the nutrients from organic material, organic or otherwise.
Since the last time I wrote on this subject, it was the time of Vichy and Blitzl, and that fertilizer was deemed too expensive and too long lasting. The real revelation for us has been the time horizon. Now, we are a whole year into the growing season and the early crops are on their way to the farm. The growing and pruning activities that were done in the spring season should be completed long before all is said and done. This means that the field should be ready to be harvested in April. By the time the grain is ready, there are enough nutrients for it to be taken at the optimum rate. Since the growing season has just begun, the harvest will have about 2 weeks of summer to stand on, which means the crop will need a lot of protein for its growth. The time period on paper is also shorter than in the past. Before, the conditions could vary from one year to the next: favourable weather, high moisture, little water to no water, etc. Today the typical weather pattern doesn’t even warrant a heat wave.
So, what do we do then?
In most situations, there is a day of doubt where the choice to go organic or not is appropriate. Let’s look at this one. Do we want to use organic nitrogen, which takes too long to get what it is supposed to give us? It may seem hard to believe, but we can also experiment on self-liquidating organic fertilizer, urea, which gives us its own fuel. It is taken on application, right out of the container (like most plants), and it maintains its nitrogen content for years. So, if we go organic, we should anticipate additional costs and, for organic fertilizers, less availability. So, who is to say, “This is what I need to do!” Let’s take advantage of this resource to have options available.
We have to make sure to differentiate between the premium organic fertilizer, and that which is designed to not do what it is said to. In the case of urea, it is specifically designed to give “food, rather than fuel” to the soil.