Is Granular Fertilizer Better Than Liquid Fertilizer?

Are you interested in using granular fertilizer but unsure if this is the best option for your crops? After all, there’s also liquid fertilizer to consider. Both fertilizer types work very well, but there are differences that you have to think about to decide which is better for your use.

Granular fertilizer is better than liquid fertilizer in terms of being more cost-effective in bulk, easy to store, and efficient for heavy applications. Because of its nature, granular fertilizer can reduce costs by up to 30% and is also considered the more environmentally friendly option compared to liquid fertilizer. 

When considering whether granular fertilizer is the better option, you must consider several factors: ease and convenience of application, costs, and potential plant response.

How Does Granular Fertilizer Work?

Granular fertilizer comes in thick granules, which are often in the shape of small pellets. These granules are designed to be spread out over the yard or garden and in bands that slightly overlap each other. This allows for even coverage, plus all granules will get absorbed into the soil instead of being blown away by the wind or swept away by rain since they can’t blend in with anything else in their surroundings.

Benefits of Using Granular Fertilizer

  • Reduce fertilizer costs by up to 30%.
  • Protect your soil from nutrient imbalance due to high amounts of soluble fertilizers used in an area.
  • Optimize plant growth rates by improving organic matter composition, water retention, and making nutrients available to the roots of plants within the appropriate time range, meaning that less feed is needed for crops.
  • Improve environmental conditions because less nitrogen escaping into groundwater systems, runoff into bodies of surface waters, or acidification.

How Does Liquid Fertilizer Work?

Liquid fertilizer is a more expensive option, but it can be more effective at rapidly providing nutrients to the plant. Liquid fertilizer disperses quickly and then automatically dissolves and spreads out evenly. Since the fertilizers can spread rapidly throughout the soil, they tend to work faster than granular fertilizers.

Benefits of Using Liquid Fertilizer:

  • They can be mixed and applied simultaneously.
  • They require no mixing at the time of application, while granular fertilizers should not be wet when they are used. Thus, granular fertilizer is more challenging to transport and load on planters or sprayers than liquid fertilizer.
  • Liquid fertilizers dissolve faster by water action, so your plants can absorb them quickly.
  • Certain granular fertilizers may clog sprayer nozzles, especially if you apply high rates of granules. These granules also plug caps on granular spreaders that are not supposed to have openings big enough for granules to pass through. Liquid fertilizers do not have this type of drawback because most cap openings are too small for granules to pass.

Granular Fertilizer VS Liquid Fertilizer: Main Differences

  • Consistency – in liquid fertilizer, the nutrient content is the same in every drop, while in a granular fertilizer, there are individual nutrient components per granule.
  • Spatial – this refers to the distance from plant roots to fertilizer nutrients. Phosphorus and other less mobile nutrients can’t get closer than the individual granule, whereas, in liquid form, the nutrients are more mobile in the soil water solution.
  • Equipment – handling liquid fertilizer involves converting equipment, and its costs can become an obstacle.
  • Salt content – liquid fertilizers are often recommended as a “starter” while granular ones are described as “hot.” This means that roots may avoid a granular fertilizer band containing high levels of nitrogen and potassium.

Proper Usage of Granular Fertilizer

  • Misusing granular fertilizer can result in dangerous side effects for your plants, such as nutrient burn and fertilizer runoff. Fortunately, the current fertilizer offerings in the market are designed to make feeding your plants an easy task. 
  • There are four main ways to apply granular fertilizer safely and effectively.
  • Deep soil – this is ideal for those who haven’t sown anything yet but are already preparing their gardens for planting. This is because deep soil application will damage plant roots if you do it after planting.
  • Dibbling – this is just like deep soil application, but here you’re focused on limiting application to the exact spots to be buried in. This involves using 20 percent less fertilizer than usual. A lot of planters prefer this method since it requires less fertilizer to use overall.
  • Topdressing – if there are plants already growing in your garden, consider applying via topdressing. This involves distributing the fertilizer evenly across the surface by hand or using a hand-held spreader or a drop spreader. 
  • Banding – this method works if there are plants that are already planted in rows. The fertilizer is placed in furrows about two inches to the side of the plants.

Can You Use Both Granular and Liquid Fertilizers At The Same Time?

The difference between granular fertilizer and liquid fertilizer is that granules are compressed granules of fertilizer that range from fine to coarse. In contrast, liquid fertilizers are soluble nutrients that are applied through irrigation systems or by spraying. But can you use both at the same time?

Yes, you can use granular fertilizer and liquid fertilizer at the same time. However, it is best to apply granular granules first before applying liquid fertilizers. Liquid fertilizers seep down in the soil and affect granules placed atop and underneath the earth’s surface. If granules and liquids mix, granules will clump together, and granules are usually made of organic matter, which may release the nutrients to the roots slowly.

Which One Should I Choose?

Knowing what your plants need, the environmental effects, what’s on hand and how to use it are crucial factors in choosing the better fertilizer.

If you prefer to buy fertilizer in bulk for more savings plus easier handling and storage, go for granular fertilizer. If you’re looking for a fertilizer that can be absorbed quickly, especially if you’re correcting severe nutritional deficiencies of your plants, then go for liquid fertilizer since granular releases nutrients gradually over the growing season.

Both granular fertilizer and liquid fertilizer have different pros and cons. The right one for a grower’s personal use will depend on the plants’ needs, the soil’s lack, and the grower’s goals and limitations.

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