Over the years, fertilizers, with their richness in nourishment, have evolved from small planting miracles to bountiful harvests.
This is especially true for chemical fertilizers, since they increase the size of these rich harvests each year since the 1930s. Not only are chemical fertilizers growth advocates, but they’re also cost-effective for farmers and growers. However, should we still be concerned about the side effects of this planting miracle?
First off, chemical fertilizer are made from chemicals that are processed by using chemical treatments, unlike organic fertilizer which are made of natural ingredients (plant and animal remains, or organic waste).
Fertilizer need to be composed of macro-nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus in order to enhance plant growth.
However, chemical fertilizers tend to have a lot of nitrogen, which can prove damaging to both the environment and life, if left unchecked.
To make matters worse, we only understand the gist of the problem, and not the whole story of it; and it will take years, unfortunately, for the world to address such a problem.
To better understand the dangerous, we put together a list of the dangers of chemical fertilizers and how they can affect the environment, and what that can mean for human health.
• Less Nutrients
Crops, such as vegetables, are supposed to be packed with nutrients, and even promote human health. But when food crops use chemical fertilizers, they will be robbed of the amount of nutrients that humans need for a healthy lifestyle.
While elements such as nitrogen and fast-acting plant-growth chemicals are promoted in these fertilizers, essential nutrients such as calcium, zinc, and iron will be lacking in the food that people eat. Thus, these crops will have less nutritional value, when these fertilizers are applied to them.
• Chemical Burn
Among the dangers of chemical fertilizers is what we know as chemical burn. As mentioned earlier, chemical fertilizers tend to be high in nitrogen count. Nitrogen is responsible for speeding up the growing process; however, if you apply too much of this fertilizer, then you may be doing more harm than good to your plants.
Too much exposure to these chemicals can cause plant leaves to turn yellow or brown, thus damaging the plant, killing it, and counting it as a loss. Chemical leaf scorch is a common condition that plagues crops, whenever chemical fertilizers aren’t distributed properly. Moderate usage should be key here, but sadly, it can still be tempting to use more of it to produce more crops.
• Acidic Soil
Chemical fertilizers can prove damaging to soil, once it seeps down to the ground. And as soil becomes more acidic to the chemicals (including excess amount of nitrogen), organic matter decreases, and the topsoil becomes so toxic that crops cannot grow and survive in it.
One solution may be to use clay soil, instead of sandy soil, to help slow down the effects of excess chemical fertilization; however, that still doesn’t seem enough, when considering what can happen just below the surface, if these chemicals seep deeper into the ground.
• Water Contamination
Just below the surface is groundwater; and it can be easy for chemical fertilizers to seep into the earth and get into this water. Once the chemicals find its way into this water, they can make their way into larger bodies of water, which accounts for plant and animal life. Not to mention, excess amounts of nitrogen can kill off fish that live in these affected waters.
• Instigates Global Warming
However, the biggest problem remains: global warming. The production of carbon dioxide accounts for much of global warming; however, nitrogen also accounts for it, though not as much as carbon dioxide.
With cars, engines, and power plants already contributing to the problem by releasing nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, the use of chemical fertilizers isn’t helping matters by indirectly adding more nitrogen to the environment.
Also check out our next post on 10+ top agribusinesses that can make you a millionaire.
Understanding the dangers of chemical fertilizers is important to us because it can be hazardous, whether farms and growers use them in moderation or excessively. However, it’s always tempting to use more to increase plant growth, despite its long-term, damaging consequences to both the environment and human health.
Consider using safer alternatives such as natural fertilizers and/or sustainable methods that won’t damage the crops, or infect soils to where they cause plants to die. Crops need to have nutrients to grow and survive, and so do human beings; let’s try to keep it that way.