For centuries now, fertilizer has been the go-to choice when it comes to improving soil quality. Because of this, the necessity for compost is often overlooked and met with reasonable doubt. That being said, compost and fertilizer both improve soil quality, but have separate uses and characteristics. We previously discussed the difference between soil and compost, and in this blog post, we will discuss the difference between compost and fertilizer.
What is Compost?
Compost is a mixture of ingredients made up completely of decayed organic material. Depending on the composting method, compost can also be made with branches, cardboard shreds and other brown materials. The materials in a compost mix break down into extremely rich soil, which makes it the perfect mulch.
What is Fertilizer?
Fertilizer is essentially a substance that is added to the soil in order to increase its quality. While fertilizer adds to the nutrient supply of the soil, it doesn’t feed the soil food web. Instead, the ingredients in fertilizer is meant to meet the needs of fast-growing plants. Because of this, the application of fertilizer depends almost entirely on the needs of the plants. Compost also provides a handful of nutrients that plants need.
Common Traits Shared By Compost and Fertilizer
Despite their differences, compost and fertilizer definitely share more in common than we think. They also work well together and complement each other. When used together, the organic matter in compost sponges up nutrients within fertilizer and stores them until they are needed by plants.
You can always use fertilizer without using compost but as a result, you would miss the chance to increase your soil’s fertility and ability to hold moisture. When soil is regularly amended with compost, it becomes rich, dark, and crumbly, therefore ultimately needing way less fertilizer than soil that hasn’t been regularly treated with compost.
To wrap up, just think of it this way: Compost feeds your soil and fertilizer feeds your plants.
Now that you know some basics about the differences between compost and fertilizer, hopefully you’ll be able to make more informed choices when it comes to your plants’ wellbeing.