Updated: Apr 5
Plant based (or vegan friendly) fertilizers are simply such that don't use any animal based ingredients. More and more people chose to avoid any product that exploited animals in any way, but even if you are not vegan you should consider following advantages of plant based fertilizers:
1. No Worms or Pathogens
Plant based fertilizer are free of viruses, worms and pathogens like Salmonella or E.coli which are fecal pathogens. American Society for Microbiology conducted study of 12 farms in Texas and Colorado on crop management which showed that the application of manure on crops has been found to increase the odds of E.coli contamination by 50 fold! This is especially important when growing leafy vegetables (like salads and spinach) or fruit like strawberries that are consumed raw. There are many cases when both vegetable and meat products had to be recalled from shop shelves due to e.coli or salmonella contamination. So why take the risk?
2. Child and pet safe
This is linked to the first advantage of non animal based fertilizers (No Worm and Pathogens). Dogs are often attracted to and eat chicken pellets which can make them sick as they can contract worms or pathogens. Kids playing in the garden also can come into contact with fertilizer scattered on the soil so use safe plant based alternative.
3. No antibiotic
Many animal based fertilizers and manures contain drugs and antibiotics that were used to treat the animals. Widespread use of antibiotics in farming leads to spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes not only in the animals themselves but also in soils that were manured. This has been identified by WHO as very concerning and may pose a severe threat to human and animal health, you can read more in this paper Antibiotics and Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Animal Manure
4. Balanced feed
Animal based feed contain high Nitrogen (N) that can lead to it`s surplus. This can result in fast and weak plant growth which will be more susceptible to pests attack and diseases. Excess N often leach from the soil during rain and pollute waterways.
Plant based feeds are more balanced, rich in micro-nutrients and vitamins resulting in more healthy plants.
5. Low odour
I came across some garden centers that refused to stock chicken pellets due to their bad smell. And if they do they need to be stocked outside. Plant based fertilizer do not have this "feature", are clean and pleasant to handle (with few DIY exceptions).
Types of plant based fertilizers:
- Make your own comfrey or nettle tea by chopping leaves and fermenting them for 2-3 weeks in a bucket of water. Be advised that in this case the Low Odour advantage does not apply as it smells pretty bad. Dilute 1:10 with water depending on strength
- If you live on coast collect washed out seaweed. You can add it to compost or spread on top of soil in autumn. You don't need to wash it before use but don`t overdo as this can lead to high salt content in the soil
- Leaf mould is great as soil conditioner and add organic matter. Just collect fallen leaves in autumn and leave for 12-18 months in bag or pile to break down. Leaf mould is made by fungi as oppose to composting bacteria therefore it takes longer to finish the process
- There are also plant based products on market like liquid seaweed or Grow It Bio organic slow release plant feeds that are all plant based
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