Gardeners Are Using Too Much Fertilizer

Mmmmmm fertilizer by jcarbaugh

TheGardenLady received this comment from Laura.

I just had to share this with you. Like you, I’m upset that Schultz discontinued their Bloom Plus fertilizer. I am hoping that they bring it back! Unlike you, I didn’t know till it was too late and now I can’t find it anywhere, not on ebay, not on amazon, nowhere. The smart people like you bought it up!  I’ll keep bugging the folks at Schultz and see if they might consider bringing it back : )

TheGardenLady did write a post that spoke glowingly about the fertilizer that helped produce more flowers because of its high phosphorus content. Besides the phosphorus in the fertilizer there is nitrogen and potassium. Fertilizer is used to boost the growth of plants.

However, gardeners and farmers were and are using too much fertilizer. It wasn’t all being absorbed by the plants. Much of it was washed into the waters. And because of the excess fertilizer, especially two components of it, nitrogen and phosphorus, our waters are being polluted. Excess fertilizers were essentially killing our water system and the plant and animal life in it while causing other, more dangerous organisms to grow. For example,

In June 2004, public health officials in Wisconsin, issued a warning to lake swimmers: Avoid Blue-Green Algae. A heat wave and phosphorus nutrient pollution caused enormous blooms of the Blue-Green algae, a form of cyanobacteria, which can produce neurotoxins (affecting the nervous system) and hepatotoxins (affecting the liver). In 2002, a Dane County teen died from ingesting these algae-produced toxins while swimming in an area lake.  Killing blue-green algae does not diminish its impact on public health, as the dead cells still contain toxins. The only solution is to prevent the algal blooms, and the way to achieve this is to reduce phosphorus pollution in the watershed.” These toxins can damage aquatic ecosystems, fisheries, water quality, and economic values. Phosphorus pollution accelerates a process called eutrophication, which is essentially the process of a lake’s biological death due to depleted bioavailable oxygen. Algal blooms caused by excess phosohorus impact fisheries because the blooms favor the survival of less desirable fish over more desirable commercial and recreation species. They impact water quality by affecting the odor and taste of drinking water. On the economic side, excessive algal growth due to phosphorus pollution increases water treatment costs, degrades fishing and boating activities, and impacts tourism and property values.

To read the entire article go here.

The same is true with Nitrogen in fertilizers, as noted by Alan Townsend, Ph.D., at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

[Few people] are aware that nitrogen pollution from fertilizers and other sources has become a major environmental problem that threatens human health and welfare in multiple ways, a scientist reports. It has been said that nitrogen pollution is the biggest environmental disaster that nobody has heard of.

Townsend said that nitrogen pollution causes “unhealthy air, unsafe drinking water, dead zones in the ocean, degraded ecosystems and implications for climate change.” The scientist further noted that “nitrogen inputs to the terrestrial environment have doubled worldwide during the past century. This increase is due largely to the invention and widespread use of synthetic fertilizer, which has revolutionized agriculture and boosted the food supply.” To read the entire article go here.

Because the scientists have seen what these fertilizers are doing to our environment some states are creating new laws on how to use fertilizers. NJ has enacted a Fertilizer Law that limits the use of fertilizer on lawns during certain months of the year -“fertilizer containing phosphorus or nitrogen may not be applied by consumers during blackout dates  i.e., before March 1st or after November 15th in any calendar year,” and professionals can only apply a certain amount of these fertilizers. Now all professionals who apply fertilizers in NJ have to undergo training and become certified. To read the NJ Fertilizer Law go here.  New York also has enacted fertilizer laws that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 (see here).

TheGardenLady does not know which other states or countries have enacted Fertilizer laws, but if NJ and NY have them, I feel certain that other places will follow. And perhaps readers of this blog will become proactive in taking a stand to stop the pollution.

There are still bloom booster fertilizers on the market. But I imagine that the company whose product TheGardenLady had recommended had learned about the problems associated with excess phosphorus and nitrogen and had a conscience that made it stop manufacturing their product.

TheGardenLady advocates responsible gardening. I do not know how smart TheGardenLady was in stocking up on the bloom boosting fertilizer. I do not want to use it.

One Reply to “Gardeners Are Using Too Much Fertilizer”

  1. There are laws regarding fertilizer because of some of the ingredients in them. I also agree many gardeners use too much of the stuff and it winds up defeating the purpose of using it at all.

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