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The only good thing I see about synthetic fertilizer is its ability to give instant nutrient to plants and soil, nothing more. Actually, synthetic fertilizers do more harm than good to us and the environment. Its long term use has detrimental effect on both health and structure of the soil, which lead to compaction and erosion.
You see, our soil is a living soil… an ecosystem on its own. It is made up of mineral, water, air and organic matters that includes humus, earthworms and several millions of micro-organisms, like bacteria, nematodes, fungi, algae and actinomycetes. Organic matters live, eat and die in the soil, in various stages of breakdown. By converting nutrients into compounds, these micro-organisms are able to provide the plants the nourishment it requires to grow. We often fail to see just how significant micro-organisms are in keeping the soil healthy.
Chemical fertilizers are usually made up of synthetic nitrogen and phosphorous. Nitrogen is only present in the atmosphere and very rarely on soil. To make a synthetic nitrogen, anhydrous ammonia (NH3) was developed, which is salt based. And we all know what salt build-up in soil can do. The Romans knew that salt can permanently eliminate soil fertility and that is what they did when they conquered Carthage. They salted Carthage and turned it into a vast arid land.
Use of chemical fertilizers poses a lot of danger to the environment. The most damaging effect of synthetic fertilizers is the elimination of micro-organisms and the ability of soil to nourish itself. Without these micro-organisms, there’s, just no way plant will survive. Since the 1940s, close to 4.7 billion acres of soil worldwide have been degraded due to the heavy use of synthetic fertilizers. This resulted to poor crop yield.
It causes water pollution. With rain water or excessive watering, chemical fertilizers leach into rivers, stream or lakes and possibly our water supply polluting them in the process. This creates a widespread health hazard not only to us humans, but also to our wildlife. Synthesized nitrogen when converted to nitrates and presented itself to our drinking water can be a serious threat to infants. Have you heard of “blue baby syndrome”?… Well, nitrate is the culprit.
Over time, it becomes a serious threat as these harmful chemical accumulates in the bodies of humans and animals via ingestion, respiration or direct contact. Mercury and cadmium which are commonly found in chemical fertilizers are taken up by plants through soil and water or by animals in our food chain. Once this contaminant gets into our bodies, it stays around for a very long time. Take mercury, for example, it becomes a neurotoxin once inside the body which interferes with the brain and nervous system.
There’s always a better way, a natural way to feed the plant without depleting the soil and polluting the water.
Have fun gardening!