The Organic Debate – Which nutrients will you choose for your plants? Organic or Inorganic.

When it comes to us at CityGreens, the part of the Organic vs. Inorganic debate that impacts us most is w.r.t. plant nutrition. This is one topic that we have studied in depth. Through this article, we would try to address a few general queries that we get regarding Organic vs. Inorganic plant nutrition.

Organic Plant Nutrition:
If you would recollect the chemistry classes from your school days, Organic chemistry dealt with the study of Carbon. Organic plant nutrition is any form of a nutrient-rich source that originates from a living source containing carbon. Examples may include bone meal, fish excreta, seaweed, cow dung, vermicompost etc.

Inorganic Plant Nutrition:
Inorganic plant nutrition is any plant nutrition additive that originates from non-living sources like minerals or fertilizers.

Mechanism of nutrient absorption in plants:
When it comes to plants, they can absorb nutrients only in ion forms (which are devoid of Carbon and hence inorganic). So for a plant, a nutrient is a nutrient, it does not matter whether it originated from an organic source or an inorganic one. All the nutrients must first be broken down into inorganic ions before plants can absorb them. With this clarity, the question that arises is, is there then no difference between organic and inorganic nutrients. Let’s try to find the answer to this query by developing an understanding of how these nutrients work.

Mechanism of action of Organic Nutrient:
In an Organic nutrient, the ions are bound to compounds through chemical bonds. These bonds get broken down slowly by bacteria, earthworm, and other microorganisms ensuring a slow release of ions for the plant root to uptake. This release process happens in damp conditions and temperatures of above 50 F. Due to this mechanism, there are several distinct advantages and disadvantages of Organic Nutrients

Advantages of Organic Nutrients:

  • The use of Organic nutrients improves soil texture and composition due to the presence of Organic matter.
  • Since nutrients get released at a slow rate, a lower amount of nutrient leeches into the ground. Overall less number of application (or lesser quantity) is required.
  • The chances of burn caused by excessive nutrition are abysmally low while using Organic Nutrients.

Disadvantages of Organic Nutrients:

  • Since nutrients are released slowly, plants may get less amount than they need and take longer to grow.
  • It is difficult to pinpoint exact nutrient composition (available for plant intake) in the organic nutrients. Thus some specific nutrient deficiencies may occur in plants fed solely on Organic Nutrients.
  • Organic nutrients usually cost more than their inorganic counterparts.
  • At lower temperatures, the efficacy of nutrients may decrease significantly. This phenomenon happens because the process of ion release from Organic nutrients needs higher temperatures.

Mechanism of action of inorganic nutrients:
In inorganic nutrients, ions are released rapidly (there are now some slow release inorganic nutrients as well) and become available for plants to uptake irrespective of temperature and humidity levels.

Advantages of inorganic nutrients:

  • The ions are precisely measurable and available for uptake readily. Thus the results are quick and effective.
  • Inorganic nutrients cost lower than their organic counterparts.

Disadvantages of inorganic nutrients:

  • Since the ions are released fast, many applications may be required at regular intervals.
  • A lot of nutrients can get leached into the groundwater through soil thus having an adverse environmental impact (when used in ground-based farmland at commercial scale).
  • A higher dose of inorganic nutrients may lead to an excess of nutrients thus leading to leaf burn in plants.

Parting Note:
In summary, both Organic as well as inorganic nutrient have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Given in right dose and fashion, plants do not have any preference for either organic or inorganic nutrients. Humans, however, may have specific choices due to their varied beliefs and reasons. We respect both the views and are working on making both the options available to our customers soon.


Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.

He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.

2 thoughts on “The Organic Debate – Which nutrients will you choose for your plants? Organic or Inorganic.

  • Indranil Mukherjee says:

    Hi Gourav,
    I am doing a small pilot project in Hydrophonic cultivation. I intend to grow Capsicum, Chilli and Leafy vegetables. I would request you to guide me with details Plant nutrition required at various stages of the cultivation. Since you have a comprehensive plant nutrition product, I would seek your guidance with respect to my specific requirement.
    If I can conduct the pilot project successfully, I intend to take the hydroponic cultivation to a commercial scale.
    I wish you all the best in your startup venture and wish you grand success.

    Best regards
    Indranil Mukherjee
    Kolkata, West bengal
    Cell No : +91 8450007327

    • Nidhi George says:

      Hi Indranil,

      Thanks for writing in.

      Ideally one should not transplant from soil into hydroponics.
      You need to first plant the seed in protrays and then transplant into hydroponic setup.
      This is because the plant may not be able to adapt from soil to soilless medium.(especially the roots as they may get damaged)

      For leafy greens:
      Start with NPK and then use NPK and Greens alternately ( both once a week)
      And as plants grow increase the amount (ml) of nutrition provided.
      Start with 1ml of each (i.e N P and K) and increase upto 4 ml.
      At no point should you exceed dosage of 4 ml.(each )

      For tomatoes and capsicum:

      Start with NPK and then use Blooms during flowering and fruiting period (Ex: Week 5-6 weeks)
      Again both (twice a week )
      One spray of NPK then 2 sprays of Blooms

      Hope this helps.
      team City Greens

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