Organic and inorganic fertilizer – raw materials, production, pros and cons.
1. Raw materials
The raw materials for organic fertilizer mostly come from waste materials. Using organic fertilizer is basically recycling waste into useful fertilizer for plants. Some of the main sources of raw material for organic fertilizer comes from food waste, manure or animal dung, and palm oil waste such as palm oil husks.
The raw materials are selected and dried to remove moisture and make processing easier. The particle size is reduced using appropriate equipment to shorten composting time. Commonly, compost processing is done using the withdrow composting method. The compost is dumped onto the ground with 1.5 to 2.5 meters height. It is mixed from time to time to ensure that oxygen reaches the bacteria needed for composting. The temperature when composting can reach up to 50 degree celcius due to bacterial activities. Once compost is fully dried, it is sent for granulation to make fine material. Screening is done to remove particles that are too big or too small and to remove unwanted particle like stone. Once done screening, the fertilizer is mixed with nutrients and dried before being packed into bags for customer pick up and delivery.
- Improve soil structure to hold nutrients and water
- Little to no risk of toxic build up.
- Renewable, biodegradable and sustainable
- Can be made at home
- Need bacteria to process at high temperature, therefore limited during cold weathers
- Need time to break down as natural ingredients break down slower
1. Raw materials
Inorganic fertilizer is usually made from fossil fuels. Nitrogen is used in the production of various nitrogen based fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate and urea. Potassium is used in producing potassium sulfate and potassium nitrate fertilizer while phosphorous is used to produce phosphorus fertilizer.
In producing inorganic nitrogen fertilizer, the most common process often applied is Haber process. In this process, CH4 or natural gas, supplies hydrogen and nitrogen is obtained from the air. The reaction between these two gasses produces NH3 which serves as feedstock for nitrogen fertilizer. Phosphate fertilizer is produced by extracting phosphate from minerals and converting into water soluble phosphate by reaction with sulfuric acid. Lastly, potassium fertilizer is made by potassium that is extracted from potash and purified to remove sodium chloride.
- Immediate effect on plants
- Can produce exact amount of nutrients needed by plants
- Made from non renewable source such as fossil fuel
- Danger of over fertilization
- Leaching of chemicals into nearby ponds cause eutrophication