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Organic Fertilizer: Cultivating Greener Fields and Healthier Crops

CRISIS - Pollution Crises by Alisha Patil Global Commons Sep 12th 20236 mins
Organic Fertilizer: Cultivating Greener Fields and Healthier Crops

By 2030, the organic fertilizer industry will have a global revenue of US$27.48 billion and a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.31%, according to Kings Research. The provided statistics leave no doubt about the market’s promising prospects. The business of organic fertilizers is poised for rapid growth and will likely have a significant impact worldwide due to technological advances and growing awareness of the negative impacts of chemical fertilizers.

Imagine a time when it is possible to use common materials to devise solutions for climate change and environmental protection. Although this may seem like a lofty goal, the development of organic fertilizer technology is making it possible to achieve this objective. Natural organic fertilizers have a great deal of potential to transform agricultural practices and improve environmental sustainability. Their potential applications include improving crop yield, lowering carbon footprints, and enriching soil.

Is the Trend Towards Organic Fertilizers Here to Stay?

The global population is growing at a rate of 1.05% every year. Simultaneously, food consumption is increasing. Due to the scarcity of arable land, crop yield management and land management have taken on significant importance. To keep up with the rising demand, there is pressure on the agriculture sector to grow more food crops. 

Fertilizers that are synthetic or chemical are mostly used to increase crop production. The agriculture sector heavily relies on fertilizers to boost soil production, too. However, there has been a trend towards the usage of organic fertilizers as people have become more aware of the negative impacts that chemical fertilizers have on both people and the environment. The popularity of organic foods and consumers’ willingness to pay a little bit more for them are predicted to bolster the adoption of organic fertilizers. 

Since a huge portion of the population works in agriculture, the world’s economy is heavily dependent on this sector. The growing use of organic fertilizers is attributed to their notable environmental advantages. Meanwhile, the sector is projected to witness sizeable expansion due to the surge in demand for organic food, particularly across Europe and North America, which import food from Asia-Pacific. 

For instance, the European Union has set aside 30% of its budget for its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rural growth program to promote and support organic farming. Organic farming is growing in popularity all over the world since it is a simple replacement for more advanced farming methods like the use of chemical fertilizers and other approaches. The widespread and extensive environmental harm caused by the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is expected to increase the demand for organic fertilizers. 

You might also like: NUTRI-KNOW: An EU Project to Encourage the Uptake of New Nutrient Management Practices at Farm Level

Battle of the Soil: Inorganic Fertilizer vs. Organic Fertilizer – Who Wins?

Similar to humans, plants also need certain minerals for proper growth. Normally, the soil already has these nutrients. However, when they are lacking, plant growth is negatively impacted. Fertilizers are essential for facilitating healthy plant growth and making sure the soil has the right nutrients.

Although plants cannot tell the difference between chemical and organic fertilizers, people can. Salts from non-renewable resources are the main component of chemical fertilizers, and plant roots may quickly absorb these salts. Sadly, earthworms and other soil-based microbes do not benefit from these salts. Chemical fertilizers have the potential to cause soil acidification and the depletion of important soil organisms over time. As a result, the soil’s capacity to retain water declines, and the soil structure deteriorates, ultimately hindering plant growth.

By promoting the use of organic fertilizers, such soil crises can be avoided. 

Organic materials serve two purposes: they feed the ecosystem and act as fertilizers for plants. This emphasizes how crucial it is to select organic fertilizers over chemical ones.

Where Is the Cash Flowing?

The popularity of organic fertilizers has been fueled by the rising need for sustainable agriculture in the Asia-Pacific region. The improvement of sustainability and food security is the goal of making the switch to eco-friendly farming methods. Different organic fertilizers – such as nitrogen-fixing, phosphate-solubilizing, and potassium-mobilizing bio-fertilizers –  are offered by numerous companies. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that Asia leads the world in the usage of organic manure as fertilizer. In 2020, approximately 600 million people in Asia used manure for farming, fueling the growth of the domestic organic fertilizer business.

China and India have the most certified organic products in the Asia Pacific region, with over 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres) of land in China and over 3.6 million hectares (8.9 million acres) in India. As more nations implement policies to promote sustainable agriculture, the region is seeing an increase in interest in organic farming.

Due to soaring incomes, improved organic farming methods, and increased awareness of healthier food options, the demand for organic products in North America is on the rise. For instance, around 82% of US families regularly purchase organic food, with the country’s yearly organic food sales reaching nearly US$40 billion (about 5% of all food sales). The growth of high-value crop farming and farmers’ increasing awareness of the environmental benefits of these fertilizers are further supporting the North American organic fertilizer market.

Government Regulations for Making Organic Fertilizers the New Norm

Demand for organic fertilizers is mostly driven by rising consumer knowledge of the adverse effects of synthetic chemicals in pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides. Organically grown food and agricultural products are likely to outsell conventional ones. Urban customers are increasingly choosing organic products because of health concerns, despite the higher cost of these goods. Soil deterioration is a result of rising synthetic chemical use brought on by a growing population.

Governments throughout the world have implemented a number of policies to support organic farming in order to improve soil quality and safeguard the environment, including: 

Additionally, governments are implementing a number of beneficial programs, including targeted subsidies, market investments, capacity expansion, and research assistance for organic farming. 

Organic Fertilizers: Plant Paradise or Just a Green Myth? The Final Verdict

The answer is twofold. Nutrient origin is of no concern to plants. Nevertheless, by enhancing soil aeration and water retention abilities, organic fertilizers can progressively improve soil structure. Additionally, because of their decreased solubility, plants suffer fewer nutrient losses and less salt damage. Additionally, vital minerals like magnesium and boron are provided by organic fertilizers.

However, some organic fertilizers, notably compost, can have nutrient compositions that differ dramatically from batch to batch. When utilizing homemade compost, where nutrient levels are unclear, this variability is particularly pronounced. 

It is important to note that while some research has shown that the use of organic fertilizers may result in higher antioxidant levels in crops like tomatoes, the findings have been mixed and inconsistent.

The decision between conventional and organic fertilizers ultimately comes down to personal preference, according to research that is still being done on the subject. Regardless of the option you choose; your plants will be nourished.

If organic fertilizers are your preference, it is best to look for products that have been reviewed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). This independent non-profit organization evaluates products to see if they adhere to organic farming guidelines. The OMRI seal may be displayed on items by businesses whose products successfully meet these requirements.

You might also like: The Future of Farming: Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It?

About the Author

Alisha Patil

A budding writer and a bibliophile by nature, Alisha has been honing her skills in market research and the B2B domain for a while now. She writes on topics that deal with innovation, technology, or even the latest insights into the market. She is passionate about what she pens down and strives for perfection. An MBA holder in marketing, she has the tenacity to deal with any given topic with much enthusiasm and zeal. When switching off from her work mode, she loves to read or sketch.

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