I agree, you can't compare the two as they are completely different things. No doubt dirt will grow better than any inert substrate. Personally I would never use dirt for the simple fact that you can't rescape or pull plants without potential hazards. I saw/heard first hand of a friends gorgeous show tank's cap getting broken and lost everything within a day and for that simple fact I stick to inert substrates with root tabs. I personally feel Activ-Flora is as good as it gets for an inert substrate. It's the no fuss, no mess, no decomposing, easy to plant, heavy weight, all around great substrate I've always wanted. It's to me become a fail safe substrate that I know I will have amazing success with everytime with great ease.