Use of neem cakes as an organic fertilizer is a very well known practice worldwide and especially in India. You can increase soil fertility by adding neem cake to the soil. We have discussed compost in our earlier article. Now it’s time to put some light on Neem.
Scientific Name of Neem: Azadirachta indica
Common Name: Nim, Neem, Limba, and Nimba etc.
Neem is a stout tree with a rather short stem. They generally grow up to 12-15 meters. People collect neem seeds from the trees. The neem seed kernels are then crushed and neem oil is extracted.
The de-oiled residue of these seeds is called neem cake. They are high in NPK and also can be used to kill harmful nematodes. Please remember that all nematodes are not harmful to use this strategy wisely.
Uses of Neem:
There are several uses of neem.
It works as a base for preparing various consumer and industrial products.
Neem oil is an excellent pest-repellent. It also prevents any type of resistance to pests. Chemical pesticides usually work on the nervous system of the pests, and extended uses of these types of pesticides thus result in resistance to pests. Neem, on the other hand, works on the hormonal system of an insect. So it does not lead to any type of resistance.
In India, the neem tree is considered to be an air purifier. They are generally planted in the backyard or beside the house.
But in this article, I will focus on uses of neem as fertilizer.
Neem Cake As Organic Fertilizer:
Since very early in India neem are being used as a natural fertilizer. It had become very popular due to its dual impact of soil enhancer as well as pest-repellent. The cakes, as well as neem leaves, are used to fertilize the soil and to improve soil quality.
The followings are the nutrient content of neem seed cake:
|(N)||Nitrogen||(2.0% to 5.0%)|
|(P)||Phosphorus||(0.5% to 1.0%)|
|(K)||Potassium||(1.0% to 2.0%)|
|(Ca)||Calcium||(0.5% to 3.0%)|
|(Zn)||Zinc||(15 ppm to 60 ppm)|
|(Cu)||Copper||(4 ppm to 20 ppm)|
|(S)||Sulphur||(0.2% to 3.0%)|
|(Mg)||Magnesium||(0.3% to 1.0%)|
|(Fe)||Iron||(500 ppm to 1200 ppm)|
|(Mn)||Manganese||(20 ppm to 60 ppm)|
Neem and Soil pH:
Neem can be great if you are considering decreasing your soil pH. When mixed with soil it produces organic acids. So it reduces the alkalinity of the soil. In India, it is extensively used in cash crops like turmeric, sugarcane, banana etc. In growing flowers and vegetables, neem Cakes are a good alternative to chemical fertilizers.
Neem oil cakes improve the appearances of fruits and vegetables. It also strengthens roots, and grow the foliage. It works very well when mixed with compost or other organic fertilizers. Applying neem with nitrogenous fertilizers can slow down the conversion process. This increases the efficiency of the soil.Neem produce organic acids when mixed with soil, hence can be a great choice for reducing soil pH Click To Tweet
Neem cakes and nematodes:
Neem cakes are very useful in controlling nematode population. It also effective against many soil pathogens. Neem seeds and cakes contain nortriterpenoids and isoprenoids, which are nematicidal in nature.
Neem cakes and Urea:
Neem oil cakes have many different nutrients (NPK and micronutrients) and produce a better yield than urea.
They block soil bacteria from releasing nitrogen gas. Thus it extends the availability of soil nitrates to both short duration and long duration crops.
You can also mix neem seed cakes with urea or any other fertilizers (which have nitrogen). It will increase their efficiency by reducing their nitrogen releasing rate. So the fertilizers remain in the soil for much longer.
Different types of neem cakes:
Neem cakes can be found in many forms. Here are some of the most common types.
- Neem cake fertilizer.
- Neem cake powder.
- Neem cake granules.
- Neem cake manures
Pros and cons of using neem cakes:
First the benefits of using neem cakes:
- It is an excellent Organic Soil Amendment. It enriches the soil and can be used as other soil conditioners.
- Neem cakes are organic and natural substances. They are bio-degradable.
- Totally chemical free.
- You can mix them with other fertilizers that are organic. Neem cake is a natural nitrification inhibitor. It increases the availability of nitrogen. They improve the texture of your garden soil.
- Their organic nature and water holding capacity also help to keep the soil aerated. This is a must for better root development.
- As neem cakes are sustainable, in the long-term it is very cost efficient.
- Neem oil cakes can also work as a pest repellant. These dual effects of fertilizing and pest protection can result in amazing yields.
Now the cons:
- Use caution while applying neem cakes in potting mixes. Don’t use more than 1%. It can cause a lack of seed germination or stunt young plants.
- Botanical insecticides, such as neem are allowed in organic production. But like any other, you should use them only as a last option. Although this is natural, it sometimes may harm some beneficial insects.
Hope this article gave you some insights into this great Indian plant and its uses as a soil enhancer. More on neem and its uses in future articles.
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