Why do some gardeners add organic components to their chemical fertilizers?

Q:

I noticed that some people mix chemical fertilizers with organic components. Why would someone do this since the products aren't truly organic then?

A:

The use of organics in conventional (non-organic) farming has been increasing for decades. There is an understanding within the scientific literature but also ingrained in the hands-on experience of farmers that organic additives can provide a tremendous value. In a saturated market, a slight increase in yield or quality can make the difference between profit or not.

The same goes for home or hobby growers. Adding organic extracts into your solutions can bring tremendous benefit. One that a lot of people are familiar with is humic/fulvic acid. Their ability to chelate (shuttle) nutrients from soil to within the plant is remarkable and highly effective at maximizing yield. Another input with a growing following in the hydroponic market is amino acids. These are a perfect example of a high-powered organic option.

Amino acids are the building blocks of all life on the planet. The aminos that are plant-based are known as L-form amino acid. They are long-chain proteins built on a spine of nitrogen. Beyond the obvious effect of nitrogen helping plants grow, amino acids are precursors essential to virtually all functions within a plant, including the plant's ability to make the hormones that define its growth pattern and final output. In a blooming industry focused on phosphorous, amino acid-based nitrogen throws a bit of a curve ball, but a highly effective one.

Virtually all nutrient companies in our industry use some form of kelp. In general, these are extracts refined to concentrate the various organic acids found in these ocean grasses. Substances like alginic acid can bring explosive growth to any chemical fertilizer base and is one of the best examples of an organic product that gives new performance to already high-performing chemical feed programs.

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Written by Simon Hart
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With more than 35 years around plants and 20 years in the hydroponic industry, Simon Hart lives to garden. When not working on product development at Grotek or traveling the world to help clients get the most from their plants, he can be found in his green spaces.  Full Bio