To meet the growing demand for food, farmers use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers extensively in their fields to get higher yields. Although these chemicals have helped increase the yield of their crops, it has raised several problems. It has not just raised the production cost, but the soil’s fertility has also degraded due to soil and water pollution.
So it is imperative to find alternatives that will aid in tackling pollution and could be utilized to boost the production of crops. Organic fertilizers, also known as biofertilizers, are among the other sustainable, efficient, economical options and improve the soil’s health without harming the ecosystem.
Amid all the fertilizers available, organic fertilizers made from algae (algal fertilizers) are an alternative to conventional synthetic fertilizers because they contain macronutrients, micronutrients, and growth regulators. They directly aid in the improvement of yield and growth of crops.
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We are used to thinking of algae as disgusting scum found in our lakes and ponds. If adequately prepared, it can be an extremely rich and nutritious fertilizer. In contrast to many synthetic packaged nutrients, algae is a more sustainable and sustainable alternative.
Algae comprise living creatures. When added to the soil, they break down and release the beneficial nutrients into the soil—these nutrients aid in fuelling the growth of plants.
They release macronutrients as well as micronutrients. They are also known to contain high levels of potassium and nitrogen. This is the reason why algae perform so well as biofertilizers.
Freshwater algae can be grown in a variety of media, including sterile to contaminated wastewater. They only require water, light, nutrients, CO2, and light. The species determine environmental limitations, such as pH, growing temperature, and culture densities.
How to Use Algae as a Fertilizer? (Algal Fertilizer)
The algae that grow in a lake or a pond can help a backyard garden grow. It is sometimes viewed as a nuisance, but it makes an excellent fertilizer with nutrients when properly handled. Let us now discuss how to use algae as a fertilizer:
Let algae grow into clumps in a water body or lake. As the algae expand, it gets thicker and begins to form clusters. You can skim some of it and put it in the bucket.
Cleanse the algae clumps using clear water. Algae has a high salt content. Rinsing can remove any additional salt.
Next, spread the washed algae clumps over the tarp in a wide, sunny space. Break up any larger clusters of algae with your fingertips to help the speed drying process. The drying process will vary based on the prevalent weather conditions.
Now, break apart the dried clumps. Once it is dry, break chunks into the soil-like substance using the edge of a shovel.
Incorporate dried algae into ready compost. Mix it into already decomposed compost. Mix the compost thoroughly and use it as fertilizer.
Tip – If there isn’t any compost readily available, blend the algae with pot soil.
Warning – Avoid collecting algae during the blooming phase. The thin layer of algae is not nutritionally rich at this point.
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Benefits of Algae as a Fertilizer (Algal Fertilizer)
In the present, when sustainability is a significant concern, algae is emerging as an alternative source of raw materials for various industries. The nutritional value of algae has other advantages in the form of fertilizer. The nutrients present in algal fertilizer improve the yield and growth of crops. Here are a few benefits of using algal fertilizer for your home garden.
Sustainable and Ecofriendly
Algae is a renewable, sustainable, and eco-friendly fertilizer. Because of their organic nature, algal fertilizers are safer and greener than chemical fertilizers.
When algae break down, it releases beneficial macronutrients and micronutrients into the soil.
Reduces Soil Loss
Dried algae is soil humus and helps connect soil to increase its capacity to retain water. This reduces soil loss because of rain. Dried algae also increase soil aeration. The oxidized and fertilized soil helps plant roots to absorb nutrients better and develop more quickly.
Facilitates Faster Decomposition of Compost
When algae is mixed in compost, the chemicals and nutrients released by it speed up the process of decomposition. The nitrogen that algae releases help break down other components in the compost heaps.
Red and Brown algae – Rich Source of Potassium
In reality, marine algae have long been utilized as a fertilizer by farmers whose farms are near the ocean. Red and brown algae are extensively used as fertilizers by farmers. They have a high content of potassium. Potassium helps in enhancing root growth and increases the plant’s drought-resistant. Lack of potassium in soils can reduce plant growth and lower crop yield.
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Blue-green algae – Rich Source of Potassium
Blue-green algae is widely used as a biofertilizer in rice plants. It helps restore soil nutrients and boost the nitrogen content of paddy fields. It offers anti-fungal qualities and works well as a substitute for the chemical treatment of seeds. The plants that you plant in your home and garden can reap the same benefits!
How Does Algal Fertilizer Help in Agriculture?
Algae are highly efficient producers of organic material, and they do not compete against agricultural production for arable soil. Algae can be used for many purposes, including to produce fuel, oil or gas, direct combustion, food, feed, plastic, polymer compounds, and fertilizer. Although most of these uses are possible, many are not economically feasible.
Blue-Green Algae (BGA) as a Fertiliser
Sustainable agriculture is superior to conventional agriculture because of its capacity to meet the growing food demand through natural resources without negatively impacting the environment. The beneficial role of blue-green algae (BGA) in aiding the economy of nitrogen in paddy fields and increasing rice production is well-documented.
The mere existence of BGA in the soil causes the formation of soil aggregates which decrease soil loss during the rainy season and regulate aeration and soil temperature. Thus it improves the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil concerning the environmental conditions of the crop.
BGA is beneficial in restoring soil nutrients through the release of exopolysaccharides as well as bioactive substances. They can mobilize insoluble forms of inorganic phosphates. It decreases the amount of exchangeable sodium that can cause a change in soil pH, which leads to the reclamation of sodic soils.