The Negative Side of Chemical Fertilizer and Soil Life

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness. Dalai Lama

Soil is made up of three main components – minerals that come from rocks below or nearby, organic matter, which is the remains of plants, and animals that use the soil, and the living organisms that reside in the soil. The level of each proportion is very important to soil. However factors such as human activities, climate and vegetation are also important in influencing how soil is formed and the types of soil that occur in a particular landscape.

Soil is considered the skin of the earth. It contains most of the earth’s genetic diversity. A handful of soil can contain billions of organisms, belonging to thousands of species.

Since nutrients are very important for food production, all crops need nutrients to grow. A good portion of these nutrients are removed and exported when crops are harvested. A Good harvest depends on a soil rich in nutrients.  Nutrient need to replaced  by applying fertilizers or manures to enrich the soil.

Plants nutrients are divided into two types which are macronutrients and micronutrients. Plants normally require macronutrient in large quantities. Chemical Fertilizers are usually added to agricultural soil to increase crop yields and also to ensure the yields are very attractive.

Chemical fertilizers normally come in granular, liquid or gaseous state and chemical components include Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus and (P) Potassium (K) NPK.

Plants use nitrates from the soil to satisfy nutritional requirements of plants by building up leaves and stems. Nitrate can however leach into groundwater. Nitrates form when microorganisms break down fertilizers, decaying plants . Irrigation or rain can leach them into the groundwater.

Phosphorus (P) is a macronutrient that is usually required by crops in large amounts and is finite, irreplaceable and unique among fertilizer requirements. . Plants use P for energy transfer. Soil normally holds this very strongly by precipitation and adsorption reaction and most are stable in organic forms. They also play a key role in human body since they are part of DNA.

Potassium (K) is considered a quality nutrient and is second only to nitrogen. It helps the plant size, color and taste so is very essential for plant nutrition. It also helps in regulating water in the soil to the plant and in human beings supports nerves to function well.

Notwithstanding the positive effect NPK has on the soil and plants, there is a significant health effect to the soil and to humans. If humans or animals drink water high in nitrate, it may cause methemoglobinemia, an illness found infants.

It can also cause the thyroid gland to decrease it function, which leads to shortage in vitamin A intake. A high percentage in the body leads to cancer, and nitrogen compounds can cause the oxygen transport to the blood to decrease.

Aside the benefits Phosphorus provides to the soil, Sandy soils generally have the highest risk of P leaching due to their low water holding capacity and rapid rate of water infiltration and percolation. A diet high in phosporus leads to kidney damage and osteoporosis. Phosphorus can remain in the soil and water for thousands of years.

High concentrations of potassium can suppress plant growth and cause the kidney malfunction in human’s. High exposure will lead to a build up of fluid in the lungs and Contact to the eye can lead to permanent eye damage.

In conclusion, the demand of chemical fertilisers in food production is aimed at satisfying nutritional demands by the populace. On the other hand chemicals fertilisers destroy the properties of the soil, and harmful to humans.

 

Reference:

1.http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/dalailama132938.html#LiSDi0THBJKtSujF.99

2. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/00517.html

3.http://passel.unl.edu/pages/informationmodule.php

4. http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/elements/n.htm

5. http://www.soils.wisc.edu/extension/wcmc/proceedings/2A.barak.pdf

6. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111106151314.htm

 


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