To attain the Chemical Fertiliser Free achievement, farms must have not used any chemical fertilisers in their past 12 months.
Farmers use fertilisers to replace key chemicals that support the growth of plants. These are typically Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus, and Magnesium which are all needed for the success growth of plants. Each plant requires a different combination of these nutrients for successful growth.
When we farm a single crop across a large area, we deplete the soil of that plants preferred nutrients. If farmers don’t use crop rotations or other sustainable farming practices these nutrients are depleted from the soil and therefore replace those nutrients with a fertiliser. Natural fertilisers like animal manure, compost and decaying life return these nutrients back to the soil but chemical and mineral fertilisers just mask the real issue of the farms declining ecosystem.
Farming large quantities of wheat, barley and other plants and vegetables without the use of chemical fertilisers is hard because soil is not built to support that. Farmers who don’t use chemical fertilisers to produce their food are considered sustainable because they must be using crop rotations and other farming techniques to balance their ecosystem and naturally maintain their soils nutrients.