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Fertilizers

Contents

1 Labeling 2 History 3 Forms 4 Inorganic commercial fertilizer o 4.1 Controlled-release types o 4.2 Application o 4.3 Problems with inorganic fertilizer 4.3.1 Trace mineral depletion 4.3.2 Overfertilization 4.3.3 High energy consumption 4.3.4 Long-term sustainability 5 Organic fertilizer o 5.1 Benefits of organic fertilizer o 5.2 Disadvantages of organic fertilizers o 5.3 Comparison with inorganic fertilizer 5.3.1 Example of organic fertilizer o 5.4 Organic fertilizer sources 5.4.1 Animal 5.4.2 Plant 5.4.3 Mineral 6 Negative environmental effects o 6.1 Water quality 6.1.1 Eutrophication 6.1.2 Blue baby syndrome o 6.2 Soil 6.2.1 Soil acidification 6.2.2 Persistent organic pollutants 6.2.3 Heavy metal accumulation 6.2.4 Radioactive element accumulation o 6.3 Atmosphere o 6.4 Other problems 6.4.1 Increased pest fitness

Importance of Fertilizer
Fertilizer is one of the most important management practices used to determine turf grass quality. Fertilizer will affect the general health of the plant. The healthier the plant is, the better the turf grass stand can compete and tolerate competing pests, like weeds, disease and insects. A high quality dense turf will naturally out compete weeds and decreasing or even eliminating the need for herbicides. Also a greater number of insects can be tolerated before an insecticide application is needed. Diseases will also become less likely to occur and will have less of an impact on the aesthetic value of the turf. The nutrition of the plant will also control how often of mowing events are scheduled. Most weed seeds germinate by becoming exposed to the sun. A dense healthy canopy will provide shade to the soil with the leaf tissue of the turf grass plant and prevent the weed seed from germinating. A turf grass canopy can be thinned when an unfavorable environment emerges. A turf grass stand can sustain up to three stresses before it declines. Some of these stresses are traffic, pH, soil moisture, light intensity, light duration, insect activity, nutrition availability, growth speed, mowing frequency, height of cut, and water availability. To combat some of these stresses it is important to choose the correct turf grass species for the environment it lives in, also choosing a proper mowing height, frequency of the cutting, and to provide effective nutrition throughout the growing season. Most cool season turf grass stands planted on a home lawn cut at 2 -3 every seven days sustain a dense canopy with 3-5 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000ft2 per year. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the three macro nutrients provided in common fertilizers. Often there are micro nutrients provided in fertilizers as well. Both macro and micro nutrients are essential in turf grass development and growth. Different turf grass stands need different amounts of each nutrient depending on there environment and plant specie. Turf grass managers should base there fertilizer program on the environment, plant specie, and the function of the turf. There are many types of fertilizers to choose from, form liquid to granular, quick release, slow release, coated, and organics. Each have pros and cons, again, the environment, turf selection, and function of the turf will dictate witch to use.

Target dates for a fert program with four applications of nitrogen a year at one pound of nitrogen per 1,000ft2; early spring, summer, Labor Day, Thanksgiving.

Causes

One type of fertilizer can cause land and water pollution while endangering food safety, according to an article by Bernard P. Nelson, titled Land Pollution From Fertilizer. The article was recently published by Suite 101 Magazine on-line. Groundwater & Soil Pollution From Fertilizer The article provides information from a fertilizer study by the Fertilizer and Lime Research Center, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, New Zealand. One type of fertilizer contains cadmium and fluorine, which in sufficient amounts, can be a health hazard to people and cattle. Food Safety The type of fertilizer, designated as a dangerous pollutant, is named in the study. This type of fertilizer can cause serious health problems due to its content of cadmium and fluorine. Causes of Water Pollution The article provides information from an Environmental Protection Agency article about the effects of

water pollution from fertilizer and pesticides. Best Fertilizer Most fertilizers have little impact on the environment, and are necessary for food production. These fertilizers are mentioned in the land pollution and water pollution study.

Increasing levels of anti-androgens in polluted water are being linked to increasing cases of male infertility. For years, male fish found in rivers in England have been showing changes associated with exposure to estrogen. The main changes have been the feminizing of the fish. The effects of the estrogenic-like chemicals on human health especially on female reproductive health have been extensively studied and well documented. The levels at which these estrogenic-like hormones have been found in the ambient waters have however not been shown to exert the effects of testicular dysgenesis syndrome on male reproductive health; there were other chemicals involved namely, anti-androgens (Susan Jobling et al., Statistical Modelling Suggests That AntiAndrogens in Wastewater Treatment Works Effluents are Contributing Causes of Widespread Sexual

Effect

Problems with inorganic fertilizer

Common agricultural grade phosphate fertilizers usually contain impurities such as fluorides, cadmium and uranium, although concentrations of the latter two heavy metals are dependent on the source of the phosphate and the production process. These potentially harmful impurities can be removed; however, this significantly increases cost. Highly pure fertilizers are widely available and perhaps best known as the highly water soluble fertilizers containing blue dyes used around households. These highly water soluble fertilizers are used in the plant nursery business and are available in larger packages at significantly less cost than retail quantities. There are also some inexpensive retail granular garden fertilizers made with high purity ingredients. Oregon and Washing in U. S. have fertilizer registration programs with on-line databases listing chemical analyses of fertilizers.[21][22] The most widely used inorganic fertilizer is super-phosphate and its double and triple strengthed derivatives double super and triple super. Super phosphate was first developed by Lawes at the Rothamstead Agricultural Research Institute in England in the early 19th Century[citation needed]. Lawes added sulfuric acid to conventional rock phosphate containing the mineral apatite, a calcium fluoro-phosphate. The resulting water soluble phosphorus was able to significantly improve yields on a variety of crops at the Rothamstead Centre and the Superphosphate industry was born. Unfortunately over decades of subsequent usage - it became clear that the solubilisation of fluorine also occurred in the process and this had the same effect as the other halogen sterilants(chlorine, bromine, iodine) over time - soil sterilization[citation needed]. Effectively farmers unknowingly became 100% dependent on 'bought in' water soluble, inorganic fertilizers since the sterilization of soil microflora including its micorhizza, reduced the availability of other natural and trace minerals within the soil. This to some extent explains the resurgence of interest in organic and particularly 'biodynamic' farming systems since these systems replace the essential soil organisms so essential to converting soil minerals into plant available (but rarely water soluble) nutrients[citation needed]. They do this by a variety of processes including chelation whereby essential minerals become plant available - as measured by weak citric acid extraction techniques. Hence the citric acid solubility of phosphate rocks has emerged as a measure of plant availability and enabled so-called 'reactive' phosphate rocks to be used as fertilizer minerals. These should not be confused with high fluorine apatite rocks in which the fluoride content performs a similar function to its role in hardening teeth enamel, i.e. immobilizing phosphorus. This explains the oceanic origins of many of these high fluorine rocks (Christmas Island, Ocean Island) since the fluorine absorbed from the sea has prevented what were originally massive deposits of bird guano - from being leached from the coral based limestone rocks on which they were originally deposited. Also regular use of acidulated fertilizers generally contribute to the accumulation of soil acidity in soils which progressively increases aluminium availability and hence toxicity. The use of such acidulated fertilizers in the tropical and semi-tropical regions of Indonesia and Malaysia has contributed to soil degradation on a large scale from aluminium toxicity, which can only be countered by applications of limestone or preferably magnesian dolomite, which neutralises acid soil pH and also provides essential magnesium.

The nitrogen-rich compounds found in fertilizer runoff are the primary cause of serious oxygen depletion in many parts of the ocean, especially in coastal zones. The resulting lack of dissolved oxygen is greatly reducing the ability of these areas to sustain oceanic fauna.[56] Visually, water may become cloudy and discolored (green, yellow, brown, or red). About half of all the lakes in the United States are now eutrophic, while the number of oceanic dead zones near inhabited coastlines are increasing.[57] As of 2006, the application of nitrogen fertilizer is being increasingly controlled in Britain and the United States[citation needed]. If eutrophication can be reversed, it may take decades[citation needed] before the accumulated nitrates in groundwater can be broken down by natural processes. Blue baby syndrome High application rates of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers in order to maximize crop yields, combined with the high solubilities of these fertilizers leads to increased runoff into surface water as well as leaching into groundwater.[58][59][60] The use of ammonium nitrate in inorganic fertilizers is particularly damaging, as plants absorb ammonium ions preferentially over nitrate ions, while excess nitrate ions which are not absorbed dissolve (by rain or irrigation) into runoff or groundwater.[61] Nitrate levels above 10 mg/L (10 ppm) in groundwater can cause 'blue baby syndrome' (acquired methemoglobinemia), leading to hypoxia (which can lead to coma and death if not treated). The main environmental problem associated with fertilizer use is contamination of water with nitrates and phosphates. The nitrogen from fertilizers and manures are eventually converted by bacteria in the soil to nitrates. These nitrates can be leached into the groundwater or be washed out of the soil surface into streams and rivers. High nitrate levels in drinking water are considered to be dangerous to human health. Phosphorus cannot be readily washed out of the soil, but is bound to soil particles and moves together with them. Phosphorus can therefore be washed into surface waters together with the soil that is being eroded. The phosphorus is not considered to be dangerous, but it stimulates the growth of algae in slow moving water. These algae eventually die and decompose, removing the oxygen from the water causing fish kills. This process is called eutrophication. It is important to remember that there are a number of sources of these pollutants including industrial waste, sewerage disposal, detergents and manures. The problem of high nitrate levels in groundwater was recorded as early as 1860, long before fertilizer use became commonplace. Recent research shows that the main sources of nitrates in groundwater are crop residues and organic matter that decompose and produce nitrates at time when crops cannot make use of them.

used
Fertilizers used for organic farming.

The major sources of organic plant nutrients in India are farmyard manure, rural and urban compost, sewage sludge, press mud, green manures, crop residues, forest litter, industrial waste and by-products. The number of bio-fertilizers such as blue green algae (BGA) and azolla are used extensively to meet the nitrogen demand of the crop. Small quantities of powdered neem cake are also used. These organic nitrogen supplements unlike the fertilizer nitrogen do not suffer any loss in the fields.

Phosphorous-solubilising and mobilising organisms such as phosphobacterium and vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM) are quite helpful in meeting the phosphorus demand of the crop. Potassium for the crops can be supplied by using potassium rich organic amendments such as burnt rice, rice straw composted using tricoderna harzianum and composted coconut coir pith

Indian farmers have traditionally used deoiled Neem cake as a fertilizer in their fields. The dual activity of Neem cake as fertilizer and pest repellent, has made it a favoured input.Neem leaves have also been used to enrich the soil. Together, they are widely used in India to fertilize cash crops. When Neem cake is ploughed into the soil it also protects plant roots from nematodes and

white ants. Farmers in southern parts of India puddle neem leaves into flooded rice fields before the rice seedlings are transplanted. ANALYSIS OF 100 kg OF NEEM SEED CAKE Contents Amt in Kgs Nitrogen 3.56 Phosphorous 0.83 Potassium 1.67 Calcium 0.77 Magnesium 0.75 Source : Neem A user's manual Application to the Neem seed cake to crops provides them with various nutrients. Besides the Neem seed cake also reduces the number of soil insect pests, fungi, bacteria and nematodes and protects the crop from damage caused by these organisms. Neem seed cake can also reduce alkalinity in the soil by producing organic acids when mixed with the soil. The calcium and magnesium present in Neem cake also aid in removing alkalinity. For cash crops such as tumeric, sugarcane, banana and cardamom, 200 kg per hectare of Neem cake is applied. For black pepper and betelvine 250 g per plant is applied. Neem cake is also extensively used for citrus trees, jasmine, roses and vegetable crops as an organic manure. Neem for Soil Fertility & Fertilizer Management. Good soil fertility means good crop yields. Preventing the loss of plant nutrients from an ecosystem is important for soil-fertility management. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N,P,K) are the three major elements which determine soil fertility and should be ideally present in 4:2:1 ratio; aberrations affect fertility and therefore crop yield. Urea, containing 46% of N, is applied to crops in the largest amounts; but less than half of this N, in the form of nitrate, is available to the crops. The rest is lost through 'leaching' or by 'volatilization', or by surface run-off after a heavy shower, (Prasad and Power 1995). Leaching of soluble nitrates into the subsoil and, eventually into ground water, is well known. Nitrate losses of 50 to 70% through leaching were observed in rice crops in India. Leaching not only depletes precious nitrate but also takes away clay, soil, and organic matter, leading to low chemical soil fertility and low plant-available water reserves. Ammonia volatilization also can contribute to a nearly 60% nitrate loss. Loss through volatilization occurs when the denitrifying bacteria reduce the nitrate to elemental nitrogen and nitrous oxide which escape to the stratosphere and cause ozone depletion and also contribute to greenhouse warming. On the other hand, nitrate build-up in drinking water can reduce the blood's ability to transport oxygen, especially if the nitrates are converted into nitrites (blue-baby syndrome). Even ruminants are vulnerable to nitrate or nitrite poisoning, leading to poor growth rates, reduced milk production, and increased susceptibility to infections, and even abortions.

One way to minimise nitrate loss is to apply the urea more than once in smaller quantities or, alternatively, to use a slow-release urea which makes the urea available in the soil for a longer time. Bains et al. (1971) in field trials in India found that an accetone extract of neem kernel was an excellent nitrification inhibitor, even better than sulfur-coated urea. Ammonia volatilization, urea hydrolysis, and leaching, were all reduced when urea was blended or coated with neem cake. Results from several field experiments show that neem cake coating of prilled urea increased nitrogen uptake by 4.5 to 19.4%. The increase in rice yield due to neem cake coating/blending of prilled urea ranged from 1 to 54%, the average being 9.6%. Neem cake coated urea applied to rice or sugarcane also left a carryover effect and increased sugarcane yield by 7% in the ratoon sugarcane crop Ready-to-use, neem-based urea-coating agents, such as 'Nimin' (containing ca. 5% neem bitter tetranortriterpenoids) are now commercially available in India. Application of Nimin-coated urea (1 part Nimin: 100 parts urea, wt/wt) reduced losses of fertiliser N through leaching and denitrification by 30-35% and increased yields in treated crops by up to 25% (Vyas et al. 1996). The bitters in Nimin delay the denitrification process up to 30 d by either killing nitrifying bacteria or suppressing their activity. Coating urea with Nimin could bring a saving of up to 20% of urea. The technology is becoming popular with farmers in India where annual Nimin sales are now ca. 700 metric tons. Neem for Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Conservation In the past two decades, "green revolution technologies" have more than doubled the yield potential of rice and wheat, especially in Asia. These high-input production systems requiring massive quantities of fertilisers, pesticides, irrigation, and machines, however, disregard the ecological integrity of land, forests, and water resources, endanger the flora and fauna, and cannot be sustained over generations. Also, we cannot look to the sea in future as fishing stocks in many parts of the world are already in crisis due to overfishing or pollution. To a great extent, future food security and economic independence of developing countries would depend on improving the productivity of biophysical resources through the application of sustainable production methods, by improving tolerance of crops to adverse environmental conditions, and by reducing crop and post-harvest losses caused by pests and diseases. Environmentally Friendly Agricultural Technologies Appropriate technologies, which do not assault the nature, would have key roles to play in ensuring food security, in improving human health, and in rehabilitating and conserving the environment to safeguard the well being of the posterity. Instead of striving for more "green revolutions" with emphasis on miracle seeds, hard-hitting, synthetic and engineered pesticides, and increased use of fertilizers, the future must look to natural ways and processes for augmenting agricultural productivity. In fact, all development efforts and activities should be within well defined ecological rules rather than within narrow economic gains. Sustainable agricultural systems must be ecologically

sound for long-term food sufficiency, equitable in providing social justice, and ethical in respecting both future generations and other species. For developing countries, the use off the neem tree may provide a key component in more sustainable agricultural system including pest and nutrient management, human health, and environmental conservation