Agribusiness managementAgriculture

Fertilizer and Environmental pollution

Fertilizer Environmental Pollution

It is known to all that fertilizers are used for proper plant development, yet would it be correct to say that they are healthy? What are fertilizers? What effects do these compounds bring upon Mother Nature? Fertilizers provide the plant, additional essential nutrients required for its growth that the soil alone cannot supply, thereby boosting the plant development and soil fertility. With the increment in the global population, there is an enormous increase in the demand for food and agriculture. This is why the statistics demonstrate that for the production of harvests to meet the need for such a large population, 40-60% of agricultural harvests are done using various kinds of fertilizers. It has also been reported that over 50% of individuals feed on crops that have been grown and harvested using synthetic fertilizers.

Adverse effects of fertilizers on the environment

From the beginning of time, Mother Nature has always taught us the importance of natural balance. And we are well aware of the dire consequences of the imbalance that happens from time to time. Global warming could be taken as a classic example. Same is the situation with the excessive use of fertilizers. A serious issue is that farmers tend to use certain fertilizers more than what is needed just to cater to the increase in global food demand. More than half of the agricultural harvest is grown with the help of inorganic or synthetic fertilizers that contain elements like sulphur, calcium, magnesium, etc. These elements, along with their positive effects, carry some upsetting side effects as well.

Depletion of soil quality

This could sound ironic but the truth is that utilizing fertilizes in quantities more than what is needed can cause the downfall of the fertility of the soil. The natural acidity will increase drastically, the consequences of which are then suffered by the plant. The pH of the soil may vary depending upon the geographical location. The pH ranges from 0-14, with 7 being neutral on the scale. Different pH is preferred by a different type of plants for their ideal development. But this can be affected by extensive use of the fertilizer that can later affect the plant development. Main concern for using fertilizers is that it might appear to be working fine at the present but by the time negative effects appear, it might be too late to revert.

Biology of water bodies

Fertilizers are composed of elements like nitrates, phosphates, etc. Due to rain, these elements leach out into the water bodies surrounding the field it is used in, eventually reaching to seas and oceans. The substances turn out to be toxic to the aquatic life and in turn leading to the formation of algal blooms, known as eutrophication. These massive blooms decrease the oxygen level of the water body leading to the formation of a toxic environment and ultimately death of the aquatic flora and fauna.

Human health

The nitrogen along with other compounds present in fertilizers can leach into and contaminate the ground water and drinking water. One of the most well-known after-effects of ingesting nitrates with water is the blue baby syndrome, which results in the blue-purple colouration of the skin and tissues due to lack of oxygen.

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