A study published in the journal Biological Agriculture & Horticulture assessed the effect of plant- and animal-based soil amendments in the overall quality of organic produce.
The researchers investigated the influence of plant- and animal-based fertilizers on organic matter content, soil respiration, crop yield, and phytochemical content of globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) heads. The researchers used one plant-based and three animal-based certified organic fertilizers as experimental treatments:
The research team assessed and compared the soil respiration and organic matter content of soil with plant-based amendments (alfalfa meal) and soil treated with animal-based fertilizers (blood meal, chicken manure, and fish meal).
After two years, researchers found soil respiration and organic matter content to be higher in soil with plant-based treatments than soil with animal-based amendments. In addition, artichoke heads grown in alfalfa-treated soil were also found to have higher concentrations of phytochemicals than those grown in soil with animal-based fertilizers. The downside is that the cost of the alfalfa meal was higher than that of the animal-based treatments. (Related: Organic fertilizers made with moringa promote the healthier growth of wheat.)
In terms of crop yield, those from soil treated with chicken manure was higher compared with alfalfa-treated soil. In the first year of the study, yields from both chicken manure and fish meal treatments were higher than the alfalfa treatment.
These findings suggest that plant-based soil amendments can be an ideal choice for improving soil quality and phytochemical content of crops, but for organic farmers whose main concerns are crop yield and overall cost, animal-based fertilizers may be the ideal option.
The best way to ensure that you have the best fertilizers for your plants is to make them yourself. The following list features some vegan organic fertilizers that you can easily make in your own backyard:
Learn more about the various factors that affect crop yields at Harvest.news.