Organic fertilizer can be used to increase crop yield in plants grown in rotation

Natural News
13 November 2018
Janine Acero

(Natural News) A study published in the journal Biological Agriculture & Horticulture assessed soil nitrogen oxidation through field incubation, and analyzed the rate of nitrogen release by commercial fertilizers compared with farmyard manure compost.

For the study, a three-year organic crop rotation was set up in a field with sandy loam, with a cover crop of rye and vetch for green manure. In the first year, the researchers planted potato and lettuce, followed by Swiss chard and turnips in the second year, and Portuguese cabbage and carrots in the third year.

Nitrogen (N) mineralization was assessed by field incubation in response to green manure (GM); GM with 20 and 40 t/ha (tonne per hectare) farmyard manure (FYM) compost (C20 and C40); and GM with 1 and 2 t/ha of commercial organic fertilizer (CF1 and CF2).

The second season crops lettuce, turnip, and carrot treated with C40 produced higher yields compared with all other treatments. Most of the commercial fertilizer was mineralized or oxidized during the previous crop.

Swiss chard, grown in 54 days, produced higher yield with CF2 treatment compared with C40. Continuous compost and GM application increased N availability and compost mineralized N recovery during longer growing season for potatoes (124 days), and short growing season for cabbage (56 days).

These findings indicate that the fast nitrogen release of commercial fertilizers increased the yield of the first crop of the year, but the slowly released nitrogen of farmyard manure compost increased the yield of both crops of the year, plus a lower risk of soil nitrogen loss.

Nitrogen-rich fertilizers

Plants thrive in nutrient-rich soil, and nitrogen is an important component in growing plants. Here are some of the best natural fertilizers with high nitrogen content:

  1. Alfalfa pellets — Alfalfa is chopped and pressed into small pellets, with each little pellet releasing the nutrients slowly over a few weeks to months. They act as a natural slow release fertilization program for plants that need an extra boost.
  2. Bat guano — Bat excrement is a nitrogen-rich fertilizer that works well when mixed with sawdust or other wood product. Bat guano is highly concentrated, so a little bit goes a long way.
  3. Blood meal — This is another high-nitrogen fertilizer that you can get from your local abattoir. It is usually dried and purchased as a dark red powder. This is usually used for crops that require a rich soil or added to slow compost as an activator. Note that the smell of blood meal can attract wildlife or your neighbors’ pets.
  4. Chicken manure — This fertilizer is readily obtainable, especially if you have backyard chickens. Used judiciously, composted well with the deep litter of the chicken house, this is one of the absolute best of all high nitrogen fertilizers. Note that chicken manure can be extremely hot in the first stages of decomposition, and can burn tender seedlings with both the heat of decomposition and the salts that it contains.
  5. Compost tea — Add a couple of shovels full of compost to a nylon stocking, and steep it in a large water-filled bin. Stir it daily for a week or two and dilute before using. Avoid using compost tea on leafy green crops that you will eat raw, as it can be a source of E. coli or other bacteria that can cause digestive problems. (Related: 8 ways to make healthy organic soil for your garden.)
  6. Horse manure — One of the best natural fertilizers, horse manure contains a good percentage of smaller particles that can add valuable organic matter to the soil.

Did you know that fish emulsion is another nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer? Learn more about different kinds of organic fertilizers and their effects on crop yields at GreenLivingNews.com.

Sources include:

Science.news

TandFOnline.com

O-Garden.ca

HobbyFarms.com

Soils treated with organic fertilizer are healthier; produce stronger plants

Natural News
13 November 2018
Janine Acero

(Natural News) Come to any local gardening center and you may see rows and rows of plant- and animal-based fertilizers that boast of faster growth, beautiful blooms, or abundant produce from your plants. But which type of fertilizer can actually deliver these promises?

A study published in the journal Biological Agriculture & Horticulture assessed the effect of plant- and animal-based soil amendmentsin the overall quality of organic produce.

The researchers investigated the influence of plant- and animal-based fertilizers on organic matter content, soil respiration, crop yield, and phytochemical content of globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) heads. The researchers used one plant-based and three animal-based certified organic fertilizers as experimental treatments:

  • alfalfa meal
  • blood meal
  • chicken manure
  • fish meal

The research team assessed and compared the soil respiration and organic matter content of soil with plant-based amendments (alfalfa meal) and soil treated with animal-based fertilizers (blood meal, chicken manure, and fish meal).

After two years, researchers found soil respiration and organic matter content to be higher in soil with plant-based treatments than soil with animal-based amendments. In addition, artichoke heads grown in alfalfa-treated soil were also found to have higher concentrations of phytochemicals than those grown in soil with animal-based fertilizers. The downside is that the cost of the alfalfa meal was higher than that of the animal-based treatments. (Related: Organic fertilizers made with moringa promote the healthier growth of wheat.)

In terms of crop yield, those from soil treated with chicken manure was higher compared with alfalfa-treated soil. In the first year of the study, yields from both chicken manure and fish meal treatments were higher than the alfalfa treatment.

These findings suggest that plant-based soil amendments can be an ideal choice for improving soil quality and phytochemical content of crops, but for organic farmers whose main concerns are crop yield and overall cost, animal-based fertilizers may be the ideal option.

Vegan organic fertilizers

The best way to ensure that you have the best fertilizers for your plants is to make them yourself. The following list features some vegan organic fertilizers that you can easily make in your own backyard:

  • Compost — A compost pile is a staple in any good garden, if you have the space. A good compost pile is full of nutrients, nitrogen and beneficial microorganisms that keep your garden healthy. Making your own compost pile also encourages a healthy population of worms which is another benefit for your plants.
  • Hay mulches — Mulching is simply covering the ground with layers of organic material. Mulching will add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes, and will also suppress weeds and encourage worms in your garden. You can apply mulch while your garden is on a break for the winter, or you can do it while your plants are growing, as long as you don’t overwhelm your plants.
  • Liquid fertilizers — You can make liquid fertilizers with comfrey or nettles and other composting plants. These fertilizers are an excellent source of nitrogen. Treat your garden with some wonderful liquid fertilizer with this quick guide and an advanced method of making your own compost tea out of nettle.
  • Worm castings — Worm castings improve the soil and increase your garden’s fertility. Purchasing them from a store sure is the easier option, but it can be harmful to the worms being cultivated for the product. You can encourage a natural worm population by simply providing the right environment for them to thrive in. You can do this by providing a cool, damp and dark environment with plenty of nutrients for them to enjoy, such as a compost pile or hay mulch.

Learn more about the various factors that affect crop yields at Harvest.news.

Sources include: