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Neem tree extracts are quite popular in the gardening and agriculture sectors because of their insecticidal and antibiotic properties. Here in this post, I will discuss how neem cake powders and other neem extracts enhance soil fertility and protect your plants from many predators. We discussed compost in our earlier post, now it’s time to put some light on Neem fertilizers.
Though they were originated in India, Nowadays, you will find the uses of common neem extracts such as neem oil, neem seed cakes, or neem leaves in various parts of this world and not just restricted in India.
The uses of neem cake fertilizers are a very well-known practice worldwide, and especially in India. You can increase soil fertility by simply adding it to the soil. They are non-toxic to humans, birds, and other beneficial insects so it is safe to use in your garden.
What Is Neem?
Neem is a stout tree with a rather short stem. They are native to India and other southeastern countries. A Neem tree generally grows up to 12-15 meters. They are best known for their medicinal properties.
Various Uses of Neem:
There are several uses of neem. Followings are some examples of what is neem used for:
- Neem extracts work as bases for preparing various consumer and industrial products.
- Neem oil is used as pesticides. 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. Here you will find more details about neem oil.
- Neem cake is used as a soil enhancer. More on this later in this article.
- Neem leaves are used as skin remedies due to its antibacterial properties.
- Neem twigs are a good alternative to the plastic toothbrush.
- Neem barks and roots are good at controlling fleas and ticks on pets.
- In India, the neem tree is considered to be an air purifier. They are generally planted in the backyard or beside the house.
The uses and benefits of neem tree extracts are endless. But in this article, I will focus on the uses of neem as fertilizer.
What is Neem Cake?
Neem cake is the de-oiled residue of neem seeds. Once the seeds are crushed and neem oil is removed what we are left with is called the neem cake. It is a very good source for organic N-P-K and is widely used to fertilize various crops.
What is Neem Cake Used For:
Neem cakes can be used for many purposes but mainly as an organic fertilizer to enrich the soil. As neem is organic, it adds nutrients to the soil very slowly so the plants can absorb them and very few nutrients are wasted.
How to Make Neem Cake Fertilizer:
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 so act as good organic fertilizer. Neem cake can also be used to kill harmful nematodes. Please remember that all nematodes are not harmful to use this strategy wisely.Best Deals On Neem Cakes In United States
Neem Cake As Organic Fertilizer:
Since very early in India neem is 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.
Why is Neem Cake Used As A Fertilizer?
There are two main reasons why using neem cake for plants is a good choice:
- It is filled with various micro and macronutrients. Unlike a chemical fertilizer, it releases those nutrients slowly into the soil. So the plants have enough time to use them in nutrition.
- And secondly, it reduces soil-based pathogens and nematodes and works as a natural pest controller.
Nutrient Content of Neem Cake:
Neem cake is an organic source for NPK for plants. But other than that they also have calcium, zinc, sulfur, copper, and other plant nutrients. Below is a chart of 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 oil 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.
The cakes work very well when if you mix them 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 Cakes and Nematodes:
Neem seed cakes are very useful in controlling the nematode population. It is also effective against many soil pathogens. The 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.
How to Use Neem Cake Powder For Plants?
When you are plowing your field for the first time, apply 30 to 40gms of Neem Oil Cake per plant. Subsequently, you will have to add 10 to 20gms of neem cake powder as per the plant’s need.
You can also mix the Cake with soil and apply it on and around the roots of the plants.
How Much Neem Cake to Use?
The best time to apply neem cakes is before planting. Wait for 3-4 weeks after applying the cakes for planting seeds or transplanting anything.
You can apply 1 lb of neem cake to fertilize 20 square ft of area. Mix the cake thoroughly with soil and apply it at a depth of 6 inches. Make sure the soil receives enough water.
Neem cake is a slow-releasing fertilizer whenever water is applied to it releases nutrients into the soil.
How to Use Neem Cake for Potted Plants?
For potted plants, take the neem cake powder and sprinkle it on the topsoil. Then stir with a stick along with the topsoil for uniform distribution.
Use neem cake only once a month.
Pros and Cons of Using neem Cake for Plants:
The Benefits of Neem Cake Uses:
By this point in the article, you probably are aware of the various benefits of neem cake fertilizer. Here are the benefits in a nutshell
- It is an excellent Organic Soil Amendment. It enriches the soil and can be used as other soil conditioners.
- The cakes are organic and natural substances. They are bio-degradable.
- It is chemical-free.
- You can mix them with other organic fertilizers. 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:
Just before you jump to the conclusion, here are a few points you should consider:
- 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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