Reasons Why Fertilizers are Key for Transforming Agriculture
Need Food On Your Plate? Feed The Soil!
Directly or indirectly, plants are the making of us. We rely on plants because we can’t metabolize the nitrogen that makes up four-fifths of the air we breathe. Nitrogen is a vital constituent of all proteins as well as other important molecules, including DNA, but we can only use nitrogen once it has been broken down and combined into an organic molecule, such as an amino acid, for example. So for thousands of years, humans have come up with ingenious ways of replacing the nitrogen – and other essential nutrients such as phosphorus – they have taken from the soil. Thus, in order to meet human nutritional needs in the crops and meat we eat, we need to replace what we take out.
Need to make our agricultural systems more sustainable:
Millions of farmers make their living from agriculture, and the societies and economies depend on it. In order to meet the growing challenges of
- Climate change,
- Human health,
- Population growth
- Resource pressure
We need to make our agricultural systems more sustainable. This is why farmers add nutrients to their soils. Nutrients can be added from a variety of sources—organic matter, chemical fertilizers, and even by some plants. This maintains the soil fertility, so the farmer can continue to grow nutritious crops and healthy crops.
Fertilizers: Fertilizers are natural or synthetic materials that we add to the soil to provide the plants with the nutrients they need. Put simply – we use fertilizer to-
- Provide nutrients not available in the soil.
- Replace nutrients removed at harvest.
- Balance nutrients for better produce quality and higher yield. We add manure and fertilizers which compensate for the infertility of the soil.
There are two main types of fertilizers, organic and chemical. Both organic and chemical fertilizers can be used to replenish the soil.
- As the name suggests, organic fertilizers come from organic sources such as animal manure and plants. They tend to be hit-and-miss unless processed carefully, in which case they tend to be expensive.
- Chemical fertilizers come from inorganic materials, which undergo chemical treatments. The formulations are precise and deliberate, depending on its intended use, and they are relatively cost-effective.
The nutritional content of organic fertilizers is low compared to mineral fertilizers, which are concentrated and have a strictly controlled nutrient content. Just as humans need essential minerals and nutrients for strong, healthy growth, so do the world’s crops.
- Manure is a natural fertilizer.
- To make manure, decomposition of plants and animal waste is done by farmers.
- The product of this decomposition is a material rich in organic matter which we call manure.
- Manure does not have a high content of nutrients.
- Instead, it gives fertility to the soil by adding humus (an organic component of the soil).
- This improves the soil’s physical properties, with better retention of moisture and more aeration.
Why is fertilizer important for feeding the world?
- Fertilizers are key to rejuvenating the soil by providing nutrients the plants need to grow healthily.
- When crops are harvested, the nutrients follow the crop. Important nutrients are therefore removed from the soil.
- Often the soil is not able to replenish all the nutrients by itself, that is where fertilizers supply the nutrients that are lacking.
- To keep up with the world´s rising population, higher crop yields are essential.
- Farmers that need to maximize their yields in good seasons to make up for more severe weather events in bad seasons.
- Fertilizers can provide plants with consistent and easily available nutrients while minimizing the risk of losses and the negative effects of their over or underuse. Fertilome all seasons fertilizer are one to obtain control of grassy and broadleaf weeds.
- Fertilizers, managed properly using the right nutrient source, at the right rate, in the rate place and at the right time are crucial to feeding the growing world population, expected to reach around 10 billion people by 2050, and meeting food security needs.
How do fertilizing crops improve human health?
- A balanced nutrient supply from the soil is the foundation to help large populations avoid nutrient deficiency-related health problems.
- Crops are the first step in the food chain. Soils which are lacking important nutrients, grow plants with the same deficiencies.
- This can lead to nutrient deficiency-related disorders in people.
- By adding specific minerals to the fertilizer, the soil can regain a healthy balance of nutrients.
- The key is to get this balance right and to maintain a level of nutrients in soils that will support our crops without applying excess.
- Each crop draws down from these reserves and we need to replace them with fertilizers, every year and after every crop.
Fertilizers are economically very beneficial to farmers. They expedite plant growth and are not very expensive to procure. Hi yield fertilizer also increase the yield from a farm. The plants also have a superior appearance i.e. they appear greener and healthier when we use fertilizers. However, fertilizers can also have a harmful effect on the environment.
- They contain synthetic chemicals that are not biodegradable.
- They can cause both soil and water pollution.
- Over time fertilizers also make the soil acidic, causing soil degradation.
So between manure and fertilizers, fertilizers are a better source of nutrients for the plant, manure is a better alternative as far as the environment is concerned. In organic gardening, the overall health of the soil and plants is the main concern, so while synthetic chemical fertilizers may do a job today, organic fertilizers ensure the health of the garden tomorrow. As more countries address malnutrition, the health of the world’s population is improving. Providing more farmers around the world with access to mineral fertilizers and knowledge in crop nutrition is one way we can continue to increase the supply of nutritious and healthy food.