One of the greatest benefits of complete and balanced fertilization of crops, in addition to increasing crop yields and improving the profit potential of farmers, is its effect on organic soil matter.
The sources of organic and inorganic fertilizers (minerals) contribute to the accumulation of organic matter in soils. There is a widespread misconception that organic agriculture is more respectful with the environment and maintains better levels of organic matter in the soil. However, there is no generally accepted scientific evidence to support the superiority of nutrient sources of organic or inorganic plants. In fact, long-term experiments gathered around the world indicate that sustained yields and soil productivity can be achieved with balanced applications of nutrients; using organic fertilizers and / or commercially produced mineral fertilizers.
Organic fertilizers involve plant waste or livestock manure. The amount of nutrients that they supply per kilo to the soil can never be measured accurately. Organic agriculture is less efficient and produces crop yields lower than agriculture with mineral fertilizers. This is partly because mineral fertilizers supply many more essential nutrients per unit than organic matter.
In addition, it is difficult to guarantee an optimal balance or quality among the nutrients using only organic sources. For example, providing enough nitrogen for a crop through the application of manure would mean adding between 4 and 5 times more potassium and phosphorus than is needed. Runoff can pollute the waterways and the life they support.
Conversely, mineral fertilizers are chemically processed to meet crop requirements and can supply plant nutrients in exact, scientifically formulated quantities. Mineral fertilizers are generally profitable, but require an initial investment that can be difficult for small farmers without credit. The precision offered by manufactured mineral fertilizers helps overcome the limitation of organic fertilizers.
Poor management of plant nutrients, whether organic fertilizers or mineral fertilizers, can mean the loss of some nutrients to the environment. This can alter the balance of natural ecosystems. But if a farmer uses appropriate agricultural practices, the crop will absorb most of the fertilizers applied properly.