Can You Use Too A lot Fertilizer?

Everyone knows there could be an excessive amount of of an excellent factor. Meals and minerals are important for survival, however overeating or taking extreme nutritional vitamins may cause main points within the human physique. Crops are simply the identical. Fertilizer could be useful for supplying vitamins to vegetation which might be rising in poor soils or containers.

Nonetheless, an excessive amount of fertilizer can “burn” leaves and roots, doubtlessly killing a plant. To make issues worse, extreme fertilizer causes extreme issues for the surroundings when it pollutes soil and waterways.

Let’s dig into the environmental points brought on by over-fertilizing, plant signs of extra vitamins, and tips on how to stop extra fertilizer use sooner or later.

The Brief Reply

Close-up of a female gardener fertilizing pepper seedlings with complex mineral fertilizer on a raised bed in the garden. The girl is wearing denim overalls and blue gloves. She spreads white granular fertilizer with a large garden trowel from a large metal bucket.
Over-fertilizing harms vegetation, promotes pests, pollutes water, and alters soil pH.

Sure, over-fertilizing can hurt vegetation, ecology, soil, and waterways. Utilizing an excessive amount of fertilizer may cause lots of issues on your vegetation and the surroundings. Over-fertilizing stresses vegetation, doubtlessly inflicting “fertilizer burn” that turns leaves yellow, shrivels roots, and might even kill a plant from defoliation.

Artificial business nitrogen fertilizers are notably problematic as a result of they’re concentrated, “quick-release,” and flood the soil with vitamins abruptly. 

The important thing points with over-fertilization embody:

  • Hurt to Crops: Fertilizer burn stresses vegetation and harms their progress, inflicting yellow leaves, shriveled roots, defoliation, gradual progress, nutrient imbalances, and even plant dying.
  • Extra Pest and Illness Issues: Extreme fertilizer makes vegetation extra liable to assault from illnesses and pests, particularly sap-sucking bugs like aphids.
  • Hurt to Ecology: When extra vitamins run off or leach into waterways, it will possibly trigger oxygen-devoid “lifeless zones” that make it not possible for aquatic organisms to outlive.
  • Hurt to Soil: An excessive amount of fertilizer causes salt accumulation within the soil, altering the pH and making different vitamins much less accessible to vegetation.
  • Hurt to Water: Groundwater contamination from leached fertilizer can pollute consuming water with nitrates that trigger main points to human well being.

It’s vital to check your soil vitamins earlier than including fertilizer and solely amend with poor vitamins. By no means blindly dump fertilizer onto a garden or backyard earlier than you handle what the vegetation are missing.

It’s greatest to keep away from artificial “quick-release” fertilizers and as a substitute go for do-it-yourself amendments like compost, vermicompost, cowl crops, and decomposed leaves. Small portions of natural slow-release fertilizer are greatest for gardens as a result of they pose much less dangers for vegetation and the surroundings.

Learn on to be taught extra science-backed particulars and sensible options for points with over-fertilizing. 

The Lengthy Reply

Close-up of a woman's hand in a blue glove sprinkles ash on radish seedlings in the garden. The radish plant consists of a cluster of basal leaves that form a rosette close to the ground, each leaf composed of several deeply lobed leaflets.
Artificial fertilizers are pointless as nature gives natural options, selling more healthy soil.

Utilizing an excessive amount of fertilizer isn’t solely dangerous to vegetation and the native ecology, however it’s truly pointless. Nature has grown vegetation for millennia with none want for artificial fertilizers. Soil microorganisms naturally break down lifeless plant and animal supplies to make the vitamins accessible to vegetation. Compost, aged manure, decomposed leaves, and vermicast (worm castings) are examples of nature’s natural fertilizers that pose far fewer dangers than artificial, business sorts. 

Crops and microorganisms like micro organism and fungi are continuously working collectively to rework soil minerals into plant-available vitamins. For instance, Rhizobium is a sort of micro organism that kinds nodules on the roots of leguminous vegetation.

They work symbiotically to rework atmospheric nitrogen into plant-available nitrogen, basically formulating their very own fertilizer with out including something to the backyard. This is the reason leguminous cowl crops like clover and furry vetch are so efficient at enhancing soil vitamins for future plantings.

Different advantages of decreasing (or eliminating) fertilizer use embody more healthy soil and fewer danger of crop injury brought on by fertilizer burn.

What Are the Indicators of Over-Fertilizing? (Fertilizer Burn)

Close-up of a burnt pumpkin leaf due to excessive chemical fertilizer. A pumpkin leaf is large, broad, and slightly lobed. It has a textured surface with prominent veins running from the center to the edges. The color of the leaf is dark green with yellow spots. The edge of the leaf is curled, has a crisp texture and is brown in color.
Making use of an excessive amount of fertilizer or concentrated fertilizers may cause fertilizer burn signs.

Fertilizer burn is what occurs once you apply an excessive amount of fertilizer to a plant. It will probably additionally happen when a concentrated fertilizer is utilized to moist leaves or a plant doesn’t obtain sufficient water after fertilizing.

Artificial fertilizers like nitrates, ammonium sulfate, and potassium chloride (potash) are examples of fertilizers which might be manufactured from salts. These salts can construct up in plant tissues and within the soil, inflicting signs of over-fertilization.

The key signs of fertilizer burn or extreme vitamins embody:

  • Fertilizer crust on soil floor (appears like salt)
  • Yellowing (on decrease leaves first)
  • Total wilting
  • Brown leaf ideas or edges (margins)
  • Suggestions of leaves turning inward as if scorched
  • Burnt look to foliage
  • Limp blackened roots
  • Leaf fall (defoliation)
  • Very gradual or halted progress
  • Useless seedlings

Whereas these signs can happen with overuse of any fertilizer, over-fertilizing is commonest with artificial nitrates or business fertilizers. The undiluted power and “fast launch” mode of motion from artificial nitrates make them immediately accessible to vegetation. 

In distinction, natural fertilizers are “gradual launch” and have to be damaged down by soil microorganisms earlier than vegetation can uptake the vitamins. Nonetheless, including extreme manure, feather meal, or all-purpose natural fertilizer can nonetheless trigger fertilizer burn. 

Natural vs. Inorganic Fertilizer

Close-up of two gardener's hands pouring organic granular fertilizers from a bag onto a bed in a sunny garden. The gardener is dressed in a warm sweater with a blue and black pattern and white gloves.
Inorganic and natural fertilizers differ in origin and launch pace.

There are two broad classes of fertilizer: natural and inorganic. Natural fertilizer is derived from residing or once-living issues, equivalent to lifeless vegetation and animal byproducts like manure or bone. Inorganic fertilizer is synthetically derived, generally utilizing minerals from the earth. 

Inorganic fertilizer gives a speedy dose of vitamins. These quick-release fertilizers pose the best danger for over-fertilization and nutrient burn.

Artificial fertilizers embody:

  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Urea
  • Superphosphate
  • Potash (potassium chloride)
  • Magnesium sulfate
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Chelated iron

However, natural fertilizer gives a gradual supply of vitamins over time.

Examples of natural fertilizers embody:

  • Compost
  • Vermicompost
  • Aged manure
  • Decomposed leaves
  • Feather meal
  • Bone meal
  • Blood meal
  • Fish emulsion
  • Kelp
  • Bat guano

Learn your fertilizer ingredient label earlier than making use of it to your backyard!

The way to Know if Fertilizer is Natural

Close-up of a gardener's hand in a bright pink glove holding chicken manure pellets over the soil in the garden. Chicken manure pellets are small, granular fertilizer pellets. They are dark brown to black in color and have a dry, crumbly texture.
Natural gardening avoids toxins and promotes environmental sustainability.

Many people select natural gardening strategies as a result of we need to keep away from toxins in our meals and assist the surroundings. “Natural” generally is a complicated phrase within the meals world as a result of it describes two associated however various things:

  • In meals and farming, natural meals is grown with out artificial pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. On a business scale, organics is regulated by the USDA Nationwide Natural Program.
  • In chemistry, natural means carbon-containing. Inorganic means a compound doesn’t include carbon. Natural fertilizers come from the earth, whereas inorganic fertilizers are man-made.

The best approach to know in case your fertilizer is natural is to search for the OMRI label. OMRI is the Natural Supplies Evaluate Institute liable for regulating natural inputs in agriculture. They’re the official useful resource for figuring out which merchandise are accredited for natural use in farming and gardening.

The Finest Natural Fertilizer

Close-up of two gardener's hands pouring kitchen waste from a metal bowl into a compost heap in the garden. The gardener is wearing a pink jacket. In the bowl there are waste such as peels from kiwi, orange, trimmings from carrots, tomatoes and a coffee filter with wet coffee grounds residue.
Dwelling composting and vermicomposting are pure strategies for natural gardening with out the danger of fertilizer burn.

The best possible manner to make sure your gardens’ vitamins are natural is to easily make your personal. Dwelling composting and vermicomposting (worm composting) are the very best time-tested DIY strategies for creating pure, natural fertility with out buying a bag of fertilizer. You should use pure waste generated in your property, equivalent to kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, and crop residues, to supply all of the vitamins your vegetation want with out risking fertilizer burn. 

Composts are wealthy in biodiversity microorganisms like helpful micro organism and fungi to nurture your backyard soil so extra minerals and vitamins could be accessible to your vegetation over time. For those who construct “lasagna backyard” (hugelkultur) beds with layers of decomposing matter, you’ll be able to create a long-lasting useful resource of natural soil vitamins so your vegetation by no means want supplemental fertilization.

If in case you have yard chickens or different livestock, their manure will also be used as fertilizer, however you will need to compost and age it earlier than including it to the backyard. Excessive-nitrogen manure, equivalent to uncooked hen poop, may trigger signs of fertilizer burn. By no means apply uncooked manure on to your backyard.

What to Do If You Add Too A lot Fertilizer

For those who by accident dumped an excessive amount of fertilizer, don’t panic but! Some over-fertilized vegetation could be saved, relying on how shortly you discover and the way a lot fertilizer you added. Right here are some things to do to save lots of your vegetation:

Flush it Out

Close-up of a watering can pouring water onto granular fertilizers poured under a peony bush in the garden. The goal is to wash away excess fertilizer. A puddle forms under the bush. Granular fertilizers are small, round in shape, and white in color.
Totally rinse soil and leaves with water to take away extra foliar fertilizer.

First, totally rinse the soil with a lot of water. For those who apply foliar fertilizer on to the leaf floor, it’s additionally vital to rinse the leaves with water to take away any remaining residues.

For potted vegetation, maintain the container beneath a faucet or hose and flush water by way of the soil till it pours out of the drainage gap for a number of minutes. The water will assist wash away extra fertilizer by flushing out the granules and salts by way of the container. 

For in-ground beds, lawns, and out of doors vegetation, run a soaker hose, irrigation strains, sprinkler, or backyard hose over the soil till it’s extremely saturated and nearly flooded. If utilizing soaker hoses or drip strains, chances are you’ll want to depart them operating for an hour or extra. Quite a lot of water is required to flush the world across the roots. You need the plant to uptake as a lot water as potential to dilute any concentrated vitamins contained in the plant tissues.

Whereas many people concern overwatering, a deep flush for a single day is just not overwatering your plant. The soil could look very saturated, however it’s going to have loads of time to dry out. You shouldn’t repeat this frequently; it’s only an emergency measure to flush out extra vitamins.

Sadly, flushing water poses an enormous risk to the surroundings as a result of that nutrient-filled water should go someplace (sometimes down into the soil and groundwater). Sooner or later, it’s essential to stop this.

Scoop Out Seen Fertilizer

Close-up of a gardener's hand scooping away granulated fertilizer under cucumber plants in the garden. The gardener wears blue gloves and uses a blue flat garden trowel with a rubberized handle. Granular fertilizers are round in shape and white in color.
Take away seen fertilizer granules or salty crust from the soil floor instantly.

If a salty-looking crust has already shaped on the soil floor or you’ll be able to nonetheless see fertilizer granules, it’s useful to take away them ASAP. Use gloved arms or a small trowel to scoop away any seen fertilizer and throw it away.

Many artificial granular fertilizers seem like bright-colored balls which might be straightforward to identify. These coatings are designed for visibility within the soil, but when the fertilizer has already been uncovered to moisture and began breaking down, the chemical compounds dissolve into the soil. Nonetheless, it may be helpful to scoop out the higher inch or so of soil to take away any vitamins that stay.

For those who apply a considerable amount of contemporary manure or nitrogen-rich natural fertilizer like bone meal to the soil floor, you may also use the guide elimination technique. Shovel away any remnants of fertilizer you could see. For those who blended the fertilizer into the soil, chances are you’ll have to scoop away the higher inch of soil to stop extra vitamins from leaching in. It can save you this nutrient-rich soil for future dilution and use it so it doesn’t go to waste. Some topsoil could also be misplaced on this course of, however it may save your plant. You possibly can at all times amend the container or out of doors mattress with high quality aged compost in a while.

As we mentioned above, natural fertilizers are slow-release, so that they require microbial processes to interrupt them down and make the vitamins accessible to vegetation. If the fertilizer was utilized very not too long ago, you might have a a lot better likelihood of saving the plant. Nonetheless, this technique gained’t work for concentrated liquid natural fertilizers like fish emulsion as a result of the liquid shortly infiltrates the soil layers.

How Extreme Fertilizer Harms Waterways: Useless Zones

Close-up of a gardener's hands in blue gloves fertilizing Euonymus fortunei plants in a spring garden. She wears blue gloves and pours pink granular fertilizer from a glass. Euonymus fortunei has small elliptical leaves that are glossy and leathery. The leaves have variegated patterns of green and creamy white. This shrub forms a dense, spreading mat.
Overfertilization results in eutrophication, polluting soil and water.

Extreme fertilization pollutes the soil and water by way of a phenomenon known as eutrophication. Fertilizer runs off or leaches into groundwater and flows into rivers, lakes, and oceans. On a big scale, the Useless Zone within the Gulf of Mexico is a first-rate instance of the foremost ecological injury that may happen when growers overuse fertilizer. 

Extra nitrogen and phosphorous leach from fields into the Mississippi River and its tributaries. These vitamins circulate into the Gulf of Mexico, the place they trigger an overgrowth of algae (known as an algal bloom) on the water floor, making a “hypoxic” zone within the water beneath so little to no life can develop. The shortage of oxygen makes it not possible for plankton, fish, and bigger organisms to outlive, 

Scientists have confirmed that lifeless zones are spreading in oceans all over the world attributable to extreme fertilizer use in residential and agricultural areas. You are able to do your half by avoiding extra fertilizer in your yard and backyard. In flip, you’ll additionally take pleasure in more healthy vegetation and a less expensive invoice on the backyard retailer. Keep in mind, nature has created its personal “fertilizer” for hundreds of years earlier than people. Supplemental functions are solely essential in small quantities beneath sure circumstances.

Stopping Fertilizer Air pollution: The way to Dilute Fertilizer

Close-up of a woman's hand pouring liquid mineral fertilizer from a jar onto young pumpkin seedlings in the garden. Liquid fertilizers are brownish in color. A pumpkin seedling emerges as a delicate, slender stem with two small, rounded cotyledon leaves and true leaves. The true leaves are bright green, heart-shaped with jagged edges.
Stop fertilizer air pollution with natural, diluted choices.

The most suitable choice for stopping fertilizer air pollution is to select natural, slow-release, diluted fertilizers. If it is advisable use a concentrated granular or liquid fertilizer, at all times dose and dilute per the bundle directions earlier than making use of. 

When unsure, much less is extra! Dilute greater than the bundle says to be secure. Many concentrated fertilizers require only a half teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water. Pre-mix fertilizer in a 5-gallon bucket or a watering can earlier than making use of, and pour slowly onto the soil floor. It is suggested that newbies keep away from foliar feeding (making use of fertilizers to leaf surfaces) as a result of it poses extra danger for fertilizer burn.

Don’t mega-dose your vegetation with fertilizer. For those who discover indicators that they aren’t getting sufficient vitamins, you’ll be able to at all times complement once more later within the season. 

Small incremental side-dressings or watering are higher than dumping giant quantities of vitamins at a time. You wouldn’t need to eat your whole week’s price of meals in a single sitting! Your vegetation don’t both.

For those who favor to solely fertilize as soon as per season, go for slow-release microbially-rich fertilizers like compost or worm castings.

The outdated nation phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it” is a humorous but related reality within the realm of fertilization. In case your vegetation are rising vigorously and seem wholesome, there isn’t a want to use fertilizer.

Ultimate Ideas

Burning your vegetation with extreme vitamins is just not an fulfilling expertise, however it’s a nice alternative for studying. Some vegetation could be saved by flushing out the soil with deep watering or scooping out seen fertilizer granules

To keep away from utilizing an excessive amount of fertilizer sooner or later, keep in mind to:

  • Select natural, slow-release fertilizers like compost each time potential.
  • Keep away from closely concentrated artificial liquid fertilizers.
  • All the time dilute per the bundle directions.
  • Water generously when fertilizing.
  • Help wholesome soil biology by minimizing salt-based artificial fertilizer use.
  • Amend soil with compost, aged manure, or leaf mulch.
  • Go for small, incremental feedings fairly than single mega-doses of fertility.
  • Don’t fertilize until your vegetation actually need it.

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