Organic vs. Inorganic Fertilizers: What is the difference?

When it comes to settling a dispute between the usefulness of organic and inorganic fertilizers for the wellbeing of plants, it is a subject matter open for discussion. Both organic and inorganic fertilizers have some strengths and weaknesses and believe me, you must not be reliant on using only one type. 

In this section, we will discuss every nook and corner about organic and inorganic fertilizers and some top specifics to facilitate you make an educated decision. 

Organic fertilizers are biodegradable, eco-friendly, and renewable. They are usually geared up from natural products, for instance, seaweed, compost, leaves, manure, and worm castings. Organic fertilizers may be expensive, but they offer a wide range of benefits to the soil. Inorganic fertilizers are prepared commercially and often lack micronutrients like Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), etc. They are inexpensive and typically concentrated for macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

What is a fertilizer?


By description, a fertilizer is “any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin which is added to a soil to supply elements essential to the growth of plants.” (Brady, Soils, 1974)

What precisely does that connote?  

Organic material depicts something that is or was alive and active. Plant manures were formerly breathing plants. Fish emulsion, a by-product of fluid remains of fish, is prepared from the remains of fish processed for the fishmeal industry or fish oil. On the other hand, inorganic means matter that is derived from non-living sources. It includes rock phosphate, a rich source of phosphorus derived from rocks is a non-living matter. 

Remember, most of the commercially available NPK fertilizers are inorganic and synthetic in nature.

What is an organic fertilizer? 

By definition, “an organic fertilizer refers to a soil amendment derived from natural sources that guarantees, at least, the minimum percentage of nitrogen, phosphate, and potash.”

Since chemical fertilizers burns out the soil organic matter, other farmers struggle with tilth, water retention, and basic soil nutrients. The soil gets harder and harder every as the chemicals burn out the organic matter, which gives the soil its sponginess. One pound of organic matter holds four pounds of water. The best drought protection any farmer can acquire is more soil organic matter. 

-Joel Salatin-

  • Green manures
  • Manures and compost
  • Plant, stubble, and root residues 
  • Animal residues
  • Other fertilizers (peat, lime, and bacterial fertilizers)

These organic fertilizers are prepared from mined rock minerals, natural plant or animal materials. They include elements like bone meal, fish emulsion, finely pulverized fish, crushed shells, cottonseed meal, dried and powdered blood, kelp meal, phosphate rock, wood, and bat guano.


Organic fertilizers are known as the best associates of garden and backyard soils. They are recyclable, ecologically adaptable, and notably renewable. If you have some basic understanding of fertilizers, you can make your own organic fertilizer at home. 

 Most importantly, organic fertilizers notably perk up the overall quality of the soil and enhance soil structure. Moreover, these fertilizers amplify soil’s water retention capability.

What is an inorganic fertilizer? 

By designation, an inorganic fertilizer or synthetic fertilizer is a type of fertilizer that is processed and prepared artificially in controlled environments. 

Typically, inorganic fertilizers are jam-packed with minerals or synthetic chemicals and processed commercially to provide rich and fast nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

More or less, these fertilizers are inexpensive, industrially manufactured, and highly concentrated for macronutrients such as NPK, but somehow these fertilizers usually lack micronutrients.  

The following are some prime examples of inorganic fertilizers: 

  • Ammonium sulfate 
  • Potassium chloride (potash) 
  • Triple superphosphate
  • Magnesium sulfate. 

If you want a quick turnaround and fast-performing fertilizers, believe me, inorganic fertilizers are the best choice. These fertilizers are fast and furious in showing results. Furthermore, they are easy on the pocket and economical.

What is the difference between organic and inorganic fertilizers?

Organic Fertilizers

  • Contain large nutrient-less content or mass
  • Hard to transport and handle
  • Inexpensive and little direct cost 
  • Inaccurate or non-exact content analysis 
  • Free of energy costs and other requirements. 
  • Easily obtainable
  • Endow us with dumping organic waste 
  • Healthful for plants and soil improvement. 

Inorganic Fertilizers

  • Chock-full of nutrients 
  • Easy to handle and transport
  • Highly expensive and large direct cost
  • Made from fixed available resources 
  • High energy costs and other necessary obligations for manufacture
  • Industrially produced in large quantities and depends on cost and region
  • Source: Stout (1984)

Benefits of organic fertilizers:

Organic fertilizers bless you with a wide array of benefits. Following are the top five benefits of using organic fertilizers in your fields:  

  • Bless the fields with a wide array of nutrients. Organic fertilizers don’t offer a higher absolute percentage of macronutrients, but they put forward a much superior mixture of elements. Organic fertilizers are jam-packed with almost 17 essential macro and micronutrients. The extensive nutrient profile of organic fertilizers helps the plants to grow vigorously and robustly. 
  • They are safe to use. Plants love and adore growing in purely organic fields. Organic fertilizers contain chemical buffers which allow the plants to absorb nutrients. These chemical buffers are known for slowing down the assimilation of nutrients by plants. This process essentially helps avoid rapid nutrient uptake, toxicity to the roots, and quick nutrient depletion. 
  • Untreated fertilizers are environmentally sound and harmless. As mentioned in the introductory section, organic fertilizers are renewable, biodegradable, and eco-friendly. These fertilizers are harmless and ecologically sound and pose little-to-no threats to the health and safety of ecosystems. 
  • Natural fertilizers help microorganisms in the soil to built safe heaven. Soil organisms are exceedingly dependent on the intensity of macrobiotic fertilizers. The rich supply of organic fertilizers helps soil microorganisms to nurture and thrive. In turn, vigorous microbial activity benefits the soil by edifying it more friable, fertile, and wholesome to the plants.   

Organic fertilizers enhance the soil structure. There is strong scientific evidence that organic fertilizers supplement the overall soil structure, thereby enhancing soil water retention capacity and nutrient supply.

Benefits of inorganic fertilizers:


The development of inorganic fertilizer is one of the most significant advancements and finest human achievements for modern agriculture and gardening. These fertilizers are usually water-soluble and energetically absorbed by the plants. 

Following are the five top benefits of using inorganic fertilizers in fields:

  • Inorganic fertilizers are trouble-free to use. Anyone with diminutive technical knowledge can use inorganic fertilizers as they are finished in the laboratory and accurately labeled. If your plants are asking for more nitrogen, then use high nitrogen synthetic fertilizers. Other various formulations exist, too.
  • Easy to handle and store. Inorganic fertilizers are packed with special care and filled in convenient sizes. Further, they are immune to rapid deterioration, unlike organic fertilizers. 
  • In general, non-organic fertilizers are easy on the pocket. As compared to organic fertilizers, inorganic fertilizers are cost-effective.
  • Clear-cut constituent inventory. Since inorganic fertilizers are packed out with macronutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium), you can boost the growth of plants by applying inorganic fertilizers. 
  • Lastly, they are available in both liquid and solid forms.

Organic Vs. inorganic- Conclusion

Indeed, there are some limitations to each type of fertilizer. 

Gardening or field farming is half-empty without the use of organic and inorganic fertilizers. Still, organic and inorganic fertilizers act as stepping stones to the enormous success of agriculture in general and gardening in particular. 

For example, preparing the soil with organic amendments and timely application of adulterate inorganic fertilizers can fabricate healthy and lush green plants. You can surely use organic and inorganic fertilizers according to the demand for excellent success with gardening and farming.