Soil Conditioner Vs Fertilizer [Pros And Cons]
You are in front of the gardening area and you see soil conditioner and fertilizer, side to side. Now you are confused and may have asked: are they the same? Which is best for plants? Can you use them both?
Soil conditioners are applied to enhance soil’s physical properties, while fertilizers are added to provide nutrients and influence plant growth. Soil conditioner doesn’t add concentrated nutrients to the soil but improves it. On the other hand, fertilizer provides nutrients to plants but doesn’t help with soil’s texture.
Figuring out the difference between soil conditioner and fertilizer is the first step in understanding and knowing the best option in improving your plant growth.
What Is a Soil Conditioner?
Soil conditioner is a substance mixed into the soil to improve soil structure and quality or rebuild the soil. Its primary purpose is to enhance the physical condition of the soil. Some examples of soil conditioners are 1) biochar, 2) bone meal, 3) blood meal, 4) peat moss, 5) compost, 6) manure, 7) coir, 8) vermiculite, and 9) lime.
Biochar is one of the examples of soil conditioners that are used to help the soil absorb nutrients and water better. Below is a good example of biochar. Bone meal is a good source of calcium and phosphorus which are major nutrients needed in the soil. You can try this bone meal soil conditioner. Another example of soil conditioners you can try is the Blood meal. Blood meal is used as a source of nitrogen and raises the acidity level of the soil. Below is an example of a blood meal soil conditioner you can use.
Coir helps retain moisture and improve soil and is a great alternative to peat moss. Below is a good Coir. If you have a problem with water retention, you can try to use vermiculite. Vermiculite helps with water retention qualities in soils. You can try using this vermiculite. Lime is used as a source of calcium and it reduces the acidity of the soil. Below is a good lime soil conditioner.
Soil conditioners increase the water capacity that assists in improving the cation exchange capacity of soil. It helps provide more available water for the plants for better root development. It also allows more nutrients into the soil that consequently boosts crop production. Soil conditioners also enhance soil aeration. Soil is a valuable key for plants development and production, which is why it is necessary to improve it.
What Are The Types Of Soil Conditioners ?
There are two types of Soil Conditioner: Organic and Inorganic.
Organic Soil Conditioner
Organic soil conditioners are substances produced from several stages of decomposition of living things, such as plants or animals, added into the soil to improve its physical condition.
Inorganic Soil Conditioner
Inorganic soil conditioners are helpful substances produced artificially to improve the condition of the soil.
What Are The Pros Of Using Soil Conditioners?
Soil conditioners have several advantages as they function to 1) improve soil structure, 2) improve soil health, 3) increase cation exchange, 4) increase nutrients, and 5) improve water retention.
1. Soil Structure
Soil Conditioner improves the soil structure by adding more loft and texture or breaking up heavy clays, letting plants get their required water and air.
2. Soil Health
Soil conditioner improves the health of the soil, which enhances the soil’s ability to boost plant growth.
3. Cation Exchange
The cation exchange capacity, which helps expand the amount of cation that soil can hold, can also be improved using soil conditioner. . A cation is a group of nutrients (such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, ammonium, hydrogen, and sodium) present in soil and can be absorbed through plant roots. The measurement of the number of cations in the soil is called Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC).
Soil conditioner also increases the availability of nutrients. Soil conditioner increases cation exchange capacity, which leads to more room for cation.
5. Water Retention
Soil conditioner helps in improving water retention. This is important, particularly for soils that struggle in water preservation, as water is vital for plant development.
What Are The Cons Of Using Soil Conditioners?
The use of soil conditioners has also some disadvantages as they can be 1) costly 2) time-consuming, and 3) a possible source of negative environmental effects.
Soil conditioners might be costly. Price may also vary depending on what your soil needs.
Using a soil conditioner can be time-consuming. Before using a soil conditioner, you need to test your soil first in order to know its quality. There are different soil conditioners and the benefit of each can affect the soil in different ways.
3. Negative Environmental Effects
Although soil conditioners can be helpful for the soil, it can also be harmful to the environment. It could cause damage to water quality when excess nutrients runoff in waterways occurs.. Excess usage of soil conditioners can also be harmful to the plant’s health.
Factors To Consider In Using Soil Conditioner?
Although a soil conditioner is not always needed, there are several factors to consider when using one. These factors include g 1) characteristic of the soil, 2) cost, and 3) effects on the soil.
1. Characteristics of The Soil
Soil conditioner’s effects could change depending on their composition and application into the soil. There are different kinds of soil that may or may not work for plants. It is important to know the health of your soil before using a soil conditioner because it can affect your plants positively or negatively.
Using soil conditioners can be costly depending on their composition and the amount you need for your soil.
3. Effects On The Soil
Using too much soil conditioner can burn your plants. Over-application can also cause surface runoff of excess nutrients into waterways. This could have a negative impact on the quality of the water or the environment.
What Is Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is a natural or artificial substance applied into the soil to supply plant nutrients. It commonly contains the macronutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) that are needed for plant growth. Fertilizers can be classified as organic and inorganic.
Organic fertilizers are created with the help of microorganisms from decomposing plant and animal sources to produce nutrients that remain in their natural forms. The most common organic fertilizers are manure, compost, mulch, worm castings, and blood meal. Organic fertilizers slowly release nutrients, letting plants absorb the nutrients without giving ing their stress. It also provides long-term effects and is much safer to use.
Inorganic fertilizers consist of minerals from clay, rocks, or sand created using artificial processes, machinery, and equipment. Among the most common inorganic fertilizers are urea and potash (potassium chloride). Inorganic fertilizers produce a larger-scale of variety of nutrients than organic fertilizers. They rapidly release nutrients and give faster effects to the plant. But it can only provide short-term effects on the soil. It is not commonly advisable to use due to the presence of some chemical component that can be harmful to the environment.
What Is The Difference Between Soil Conditioner And Fertilizer?
Soil conditioner only supplies nutrients to the soil by improving the physical condition of the soil. On the other hand, fertilizers only supply nutrients to the soil or plants but don’t improve the state of the soil.
Soil amendments are inorganic or organic substances added into the soil to make it healthier and conducive to better plant growth. Soil amendments are classified into organic and inorganic. Organic soil amendments contain materials obtained from living things, while inorganic soil amendments include artificial or man-made materials. Different soils and plants require different kinds of soil amendment depending on their needs.
What Is The Difference Between Soil Conditioner And Soil Amendment?
Soil conditioner is a type of soil amendment. While soil amendments refer to any product that can improve the performance of the soil, soil conditioners focus solely on improving the soil structure.
Summary Of Soil Conditioner Vs Fertilizer
- Soil conditioner is a substance used to improve the physical condition or structure of the soil. Fertilizer, on the other hand, is an organic or inorganic substance mixed into soil to supply nutrients needed by plants.
- The advantages of using a soil conditioner include improving soil structure and water retention, enhancing soil health, and increasing nutrients and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) of soil.
- The disadvantages of using soil conditioner include being costly,, time-consuming, and having negative environmental effects.
- Soil conditioner is a type of soil amendment.
- Soil amendments are inorganic or organic substances added into the soil to improve overall health
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