Most growers know how important nutrients are to their developing plants, but few have taken the time to really consider whether they should be using conventional nutrients or organic nutrients. While both of these nutrient sources offer plants the same major compounds that they need for healthy growth, they do so in different ways. Have you ever asked yourself, which of the two options is better? That’s exactly the question that we’re going to try and answer down below.
Conventional nutrients are chemical based nutrients that are produced in a lab. These special blends are created in a lab by carefully extracting things like potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous from natural sources, and then combining them together in exact ratios. Conventional nutrients can be found in liquid and powder forms, and are sold in stores all over the world. They are pure forms of the nutrients that plants need and are generally in pretty high concentrations as well.
Organic nutrients on the other hand are natural substances such as vegetable compost, manure, bat guano, bone meal, fish meal and others like gypsum and glacial rock dust. These additives are harvested from the natural world and aren’t synthesized down nearly as much as conventional nutrients are. They tend to be more expensive, and can be more difficult to locate and purchase as well depending on the grow stores you have around you.
The Have Very Different Absorption Rates
One of the biggest differences between conventional nutrients and organic nutrients is how the different compounds are taken in by the plants. Conventional nutrients are designed to be absorbed rapidly, making them an excellent tool for quickly getting beneficial nutrients into a starving plant. These nutrients are quickly used out of the soil and must be applied more regularly in order to keep your plants healthy.
Organic nutrients on the other hand take time to work into the soil and to be absorbed by your plants. These nutrients should generally be applied into the soil before you begin growing your groups, and maintained throughout the growing cycle. Organic nutrients take far longer to be absorbed by plants, which can be a very good thing.
While using conventional nutrients it’s very easy to accidentally burn your plants by applying too many nutrients or adding nutrients to your plants too frequently. Organic nutrients work along with the microorganisms in the soil itself to control the rate of nutrient absorption in your plants, which effectively prevents nutrient burn from ever happening with organic nutrients. If you have trouble with overfeeding your plants, switching to organic nutrients is a simple solution.
Conventional Nutrients are Easier for Making Corrections
It’s important to be very knowledgeable about what nutrients your plants should be getting and what mix of organic nutrients is best to use throughout the growth cycle if you’re going with organic nutrients. That’s because it’s much more difficult to correct your mistakes when using organic nutrients than if you were to use conventional nutrients. Conventional nutrients are absorbed very quickly, so if you have a phosphorus deficiency you can simply adjust your nutrient composition and a few days later you will notice a difference. The same correction could take weeks to balance out with organic nutrients.
This makes organic nutrients more difficult for new growers to find success with, and it means that growers often have to go through many growth cycles before perfecting their nutrient doses because it takes far longer to test any adjustments that you make. If you want to learn the most about nutrients in the shortest period of time, conventional nutrients offer a very big advantage to you.
Organic Nutrients are Generally Better for the Environment
Often, conventional nutrients are produced using unsustainable techniques, or techniques that damage the environment. The widespread use of these nutrients hurts the ecosystem overall, and that’s something that growers should really think about. At the same time, conventional nutrients are more likely to leech into the water supply and hurt the environment in that way. Fertilizers are known for raising nitrogen levels in streams, rivers and lakes to dangerously high levels, doing serious damage to fish and other wildlife in the surrounding water.
Organic Nutrients Grow Healthier Soil for Long-Term Farming
When looking at the organic versus conventional nutrients debate from a more long-term standpoint, organic nutrients win out in a big way. Organic nutrients aid in developing healthy soil and putting nutrients back into soil to make it good for growing the next batch of crops as well. Conventional nutrients often don’t contribute anything significant toward healthy soil development. If you’re going to rely on conventional nutrients you’ll cycle through soil more frequently and rely on unsustainable farming practices.
Bud Flavor and Quality Differences
Chemical tests show similar bud compositions between plants grown with organic nutrients compared to plants grown using conventional nutrients. That doesn’t tell the full story though. There are certain specialized compounds that show slight differences when the nutrient type is adjusted. Terpine levels are influenced by the nutrient type, and this can effect the final flavor composition of the product. Many growers report higher quality flavors from organically grown plants, and this is another major reason that growers are depending on organic nutrients as often as they are today.
Consider the Cost and Time Commitment
One of the most pragmatic considerations to make when deciding whether organic and conventional nutrients is the better way to go is to think about your available grow time and finances. Organic nutrients are more expensive, and they tend to send plants through a slower growth cycle, also limiting the number of turnovers possible in any given season. Growers that want to maximize profit often rely on conventional nutrients for this reason. They save money on their nutrients and can also produce a larger quantity of crops in a given period of time, which is all good for the bottom line as a grower. These benefits are particularly pronounced during the first growing season before there is any need to think about soil replacement costs and the value of long-term sustainability that organic nutrients offer growers.
It’s important to think about all these different considerations when deciding whether you want to rely on organic nutrients or conventional nutrient products for your indoor grow operations. Both have their benefits, but there negatives to each of the different options as well. Get familiar with these key differences and you can pick out the optimal nutrients for every situation.