For the Home Gardner, Which fertilizer has the lowest carbon impact?

Shawn Rana

July 15, 2021

For the Home Gardner, Which fertilizer has the lowest carbon impact?

Shawn Rana says that changing to a lower carbon impact fertilizer ranks among one of the top ways a farm can reduce its carbon footprint.

Shawn Rana says changing to a lower carbon impact fertilizer ranks among one of the top ways a farm can reduce its carbon footprint. While these typically cost more, they help the environment and can help save money in other areas by improving soil quality and resulting in higher crop yields.

Shawn Rana points out that It’s Important to note at the large farm level, low carbon fertilizer is and can be significantly different from the home garden type. Large farms now have, or will soon have, choices to use Caron Free Ammonia which means the ammonia is produced from renewable energy and water. This combined with the little known fact that ammonia does not release any CO2 at the farm level, unlike urea and UAN makes it an important tool in the fight to reduce the carbon footprint of large agriculture. Plus, if corn produced from this carbon free ammonia is then converted into ethanol, you now have a carbon free source of fuel. This is a topic for another paper.

However, for the average home gardener, there are environmentally friendly fertilizers (EFFs) options which remain on crops longer and use organic ingredients to improve saturation times, explained Shawn Rana. The EFFs receive a coating of nutrients of either plant residues, such as wheat or starch, or chitosan, derived from the exoskeleton of shrimp, crabs, or other hard-bodied crustaceans.

Some EFFs lower the farmer’s carbon footprint, but the manufacturing process creates carbon. Shawn Rana says finding a balance between the two options lowers the total agricultural industry carbon footprint.

Those with home gardens and container gardens do not have this issue, Shawn Rana explains. Since they can purchase in small batches, many organic fertilizers exist for home gardens. TreeHugger provides periodic reviews, including new products. These gardeners can easily pick up an eco-fertilizer at Walmart or order it from Amazon.

Choose Wiggle Worm Soil Builder if you need to build up the soil. It uses worm castings to boost soil nutrients. In addition to these worm castings, they contain macronutrients to spur leaf growth and microbes that improve soil structure, so it drains better, Shawn Rana says. It may sound silly unless you spend a lot of time in the garden, but these worm castings do not smell bad. The fertilizer smells like dirt. It has an NPK ratio of 1-0-0.

If you like the sound of the EFFs that use chitosan, try Neptune Harvest Organic Hydrolyzed Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer, suggests Shawn Rana. You can mix it in a watering can or a sprayer. While it does smell like fish, the smell goes away within a day. Since you spray it on, your pets have nothing to dig up and potentially eat. The NPK ratio, 2-3-1, means you obtain a dependable all-purpose fertilizer that you can easily use indoors, too. Neptune Harvest began as a wholesale fish distributor. Established in 1965, the company partnered with the Massachusetts state government and local universities to create a way to use fish by-products created in the fillet process.

While low carbon footprint fertilizers have not yet taken the home garden industry by storm, you can find quite a few. Your best choices will be the Wiggle Worm Soil Builder and Neptune Harvest Organic Hydrolyzed Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer, says Shawn Rana.