Nitrogen Fertilizer Use in Organic Farming

Overview

Nitrogen, a key nutrient for plant growth, can be found in several organic forms. You can find plenty of natural options at a garden center or feed store; in many cases, you can find them in your own backyard.

Animal Waste

Horse and cow manure make excellent sources of organic nitrogen and are frequently sold in bagged form. Smaller animals, like chickens, turkeys, rabbits, worms and even crickets, also contribute useful fertilizer.

Bulk Sources

Several of the "meals"---blood, soybean and alfalfa---contain high amounts of nitrogen. Other good sources include feather, hoof and cotton-seed meal.

Yard Waste

Freshly mowed grass makes an excellent source of nitrogen that can do double duty as mulch. Weeds and plant clippings, which have not yet gone to seed, also add nitrogen.

Oceanic Sources

Fish emulsion and kelp emulsion contain high amounts of all-natural fertilizer high in nitrogen.

Slow Release vs. Fast Release

In general, solid nitrogen sources such as manure and soybean meal are slow-release fertilizers. They can be added to the soil at planting time or during the growing season to provide a slow, steady release of nitrogen. For drooping, stressed plants that need fast nutrition, watering the plants' leaves with liquid fish or kelp emulsion is akin to a fast vitamin shot. Manure and compost can be made into a kind of "tea" for a similar quick-release effect.

References

  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
  • The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand

Who Can Help

  • Planet Natural
Keywords: organic nitrogen, all-natural fertilizer, manure nitrogen, compost tea

About this Author

Melissa Jordan-Reilly has been a writer for 20 years, both as a newspaper reporter and as an editor of nonprofit newsletters. Among the publications in which she has published are, "The Winsted Journal," "Taconic" and "Compass Magazine." A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Jordan-Reilly also pursues sustainable agriculture techniques and tends a market garden at her Northwestern Connecticut home.