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Now, no more use of synthetic fertilizers to get lush, green, bountiful gardens. Seaweed fertilizers are a win-win for both plants as well as the environment. This organic fertilizer has been a time-honored fertilizer as it has been used for centuries. 

The ancients knew about the benefits of seaweed fertilizer and how easy it was to harness its nutrients and minerals. Seaweed fertilizer has long been used in agricultural activities to promote the growth of crops, especially before the arrival of commercial fertilizers in the market. It has gained admiration from many plant enthusiasts and adept farmers. Seaweed fertilizer has the potential to stimulate the growth of your plants and even improve the texture of soil and its water retention capacity. Many plant parents prepare fertilizers from seaweed at home as it is very easy and affordable. Also, this organic fertilizer is said to increase the tolerance of soil against abiotic stressors such as drought, and salinity. 

Often referred to as biofertilizers or biostimulants, they offer many benefits over conventional fertilizers. Plants that are nourished with seaweed fertilizer are stronger and healthier, making them more resilient to environmental stress. Gardeners should definitely include this product in their gardening arsenals. In response to an increasing trend towards environmental consciousness, sustainable products are gaining more popularity both commercially and in home gardens. 

Despite its nutritional benefits, seaweed fertilizer does not meet the needs of all plants; keep reading to discover what it will offer and what it will not.

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Understanding Biostimulants 

Nowadays, people are opting for sustainable agricultural practices and taking upon responsible ways to interact with the environment in order to avoid degradation or depletion of natural resources. Hence, biostimulants have been gaining popularity recently.

The term “biostimulants” refers to a class of substances that are applied to plants or the soil that stimulate natural processes to enhance or benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality. Kelp and seaweed products are classified as such because they contain substances and/or microbes whose function is to stimulate natural processes in plants to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop. It was first coined in 1997 to refer to materials applied to crops in small quantities, other than fertilizers, that promote growth. In essence, these are natural products that provide plants with extra nutrients so they can grow stronger and healthier. 

 

Components Of Seaweed Fertilizers

As a pelagic product, seaweed fertilizer has a broad spectrum of nutrients that are hardly found in regular fertilizers. It contains almost all of the elements on the periodic table that are plant essential. These elements supply plants with macronutrients, micronutrients, and several trace elements that plants require. Generally, these are natural components and are referred to as plant growth regulators. Some of these are-

N-P-K Ratio

Despite having a lower N-P-K value, seaweed fertilizers are a good source of macronutrients for plants. Also, they are less prone to leaching due to the presence of microorganisms in them. The amount of potassium present in the organic product helps in increasing the plant’s potential to withstand temperature extremes and protects it from pathogens and diseases. 

 

Growth Hormones

Seaweed fertilizers are especially famous for boosting plant growth. They contain growth hormones that are specialized chemical compounds. They are needed in very small amounts but they are enough to stimulate plant growth.

 

Amino Acids

Amino acids play a vital role within both plants and when present in the soil. Plant use them as building blocks for proteins and also for metabolic processes. Meanwhile, in the soil, they are the prime source of nitrogen and protein for the microbes and strengthen microbial colonies. 

 

Beneficial Fungus and Bacteria

Generally, in soil, fungus and bacteria have a symbiotic relationship. Adding seaweed fertilizer in the soil supplements these good bacteria and fungi and helps in promoting plant growth. Good bacteria produce anti-bacterial metabolites, auxins, cytokinins, that help plants in fighting fungal diseases. Whereas, root zone fungi enhance water use efficiency and improve disease and salinity resistance.

 

Bioactive carbohydrates

Seaweed fertilizers contain complex polysaccharides that are hardly present in land plants. These carbohydrates are responsible for enhancing the water retention capacity of the soil as well as improving the structure of the soil. Additionally, they protect plants from pathogens.

Seaweed

How is seaweed fertilizer prepared?

Seaweed fertilizer is derived from natural sources of seaweed. It is collected then some of its saltwater is rinsed and then stored in water until it is fermented or decomposed. This allows the plant material to break down and form a slurry. 

Kelp– a large brown seaweed, is one of the most common ingredients used in the preparation of seaweed fertilizer. Although it is abundant and easy to harvest, it may also contain different types of oceanic plants in different formulas. 

DIY

If you are a plant enthusiast living in a coastal area then you are in luck! You don’t have to visit one store to another in search of the right and expensive fertilizers for your houseplants. As kelp or seaweed is prodigious, you can easily harvest kelp and make homemade fertilizer to feed your garden babies. To prepare this fertilizer, all you need is seaweed, some water, and an airtight, lidded container. Now, follow the steps mentioned below.

  • Collect a big bunch of seaweed from the seashore and bring it home. 
  • Rinse it with fresh water to remove excess salt, and debris/sand.
  • Put the rinsed seaweed in the container and pour water over it covering it completely. Secure the lid firmly.
  • Keep it away from the heat and let it sit for several weeks, or months if the weather is cooler. 
  • It works best by diluting one part to 10 parts of water and spraying it on plants in a fine mist or applying it using a watering can until the liquid drips off.

Benefits of Seaweed Fertilizers

Kelp or seaweed fertilizers are the best bet for gardeners or farmers who want to avoid synthetic fertilizers or fertilizers derived from animal products. They are eco-friendly as they are usually renewable and sustainable resources. Let’s look at the many benefits of seaweed fertilizers.

 

Organic classification

Seaweed fertilizers are free from any additional synthetically-created components. To meet this qualification, they are made to meet the strict regulations for organic products.

Sustainability

One of the many benefits of seaweed fertilizers is that they are renewable thus, making them sustainable. They are easy to harvest from the seashore and do not associate with any kind of environmental damage. The liquid fertilizers are derived after fermentation, this means they have no chemicals present in them.

Reduced Leaching

Leaching is a major issue in planting. Plants can’t access nutrients if they are leached out of the soil through irrigation or rainfall; this occurs by water flowing through the soil.  Seaweed fertilizers contain beneficial microorganisms that secrete substances that are sticky and bind available nutrients to soil particles in the root zone. As a result, nutrients remain attached to the soil particles instead of leaking into the deeper layers where they cannot be absorbed by plants.  

Strengthened Plant Defenses

Plant health can be easily affected whenever they are exposed to temperature extremes, drought, pests, and insects. In such a scenario, feeding your plants with seaweed fertilizers might be helpful in restoring the plant defenses and making them stronger and more vigorous. 

Enhanced Soil Conditions

Seaweed fertilizers are enriched with macronutrients, micronutrients, humic acids, and phytohormones. These are helpful in enhancing the soil conditions. Additionally, these fertilizers contain fatty acids and proteins that improve the moisture and nutrient retention capacity of the soil thus, improving plant growth.

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How to use them?

Now that we are done talking about why you should use seaweed fertilizers, it is time to discuss specifics on how to put them in proper use.

A quality product that results from fermentation at room temperature is the first thing you should look for. Heat alters the configuration of amino acids released and kills beneficial bacteria and fungi, which in turn creates a decrease in the biological activity of the finished product. 

In order to prevent damage to your plants, most commercially available liquid seaweed fertilizers need to be diluted prior to use. Dilution rates vary according to the type of plants you are fertilizing. However, for most garden plants, the solution should be diluted with 50 times the amount of water as the product. In general, this is 4 or 5 tablespoons per gallon of water. In the case of indoor plants, you can use one tablespoon per gallon of water.

 

The right time to use seaweed  fertilizers  

The best time to feed your plants with seaweed fertilizers is during their active growing season which is usually spring or early summer. A plant’s growth should slow during the cooler months of the year. Fertilizing the plant during winters might unnaturally upset this cycle.

Also, seaweed fertilizers improve seed germination. So, you can either soak the seed overnight in a dilute solution for early root growth or spray them with the solution right after planting them.

The overall benefits of liquid seaweed fertilizers include superior plant and soil health. Additionally, these added benefits not only ensure that the plant receives the nutrients it needs, but also enhance the other biotic and abiotic factors, as well as increase plant defenses against pests and disease.

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