Effect of Excessive Application of Chemical Fertilizers
Fertilizers are substance used to add nutrients to the soil to promote soil fertility and increase plant growth.
Soil health relies on balanced macronutrients and micronutrients, as well as microbial health. It’s very much complicated than simply adding nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) to the soil and calling it a day.
Unfortunately, our soils are exposed to hazards as a result of our unsustainable farming and gardening practices, and this has some negative effects on human health (especially if high concentrations of toxic substances found in soil, penetrates into the groundwater which may be used for drinking) and the environment.
Groundwater pollution is the major problem of chemical fertilizers, this is because, when you apply nitrogen fertilizers to the soil, it breaks down into nitrates and move easily in the soil, and because it is water-soluble, it can stay in groundwater for decades, however the addition of more nitrogen over the years, has accumulative effect.
According to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the effects of chemical fertilizers are compounded when mixed with a single pesticide. They discovered that, it alter immune, endocrine and nervous system functions in mice, as well as influence on children’s and fetus’s developing neurological, endocrine and immune systems. These influences “portend change in ability to learn and in patterns of aggression.
Groundwater contamination has been linked to gastric cancer, goiter, birth malformations, and hypertension; testicular cancer and stomach cancer.
Excessive air- and water-borne nitrogen from fertilizers may cause respiratory ailments, cardiac disease, and several cancers. It can also inhibit crop growth, increase allergenic pollen production.
The most dangerous effect of chemical fertilizers is called methemoglobinemia. In infants it is also known as Blue Baby Syndrome. The risk usually occurs when infants are given formula reconstituted with nitrate contaminated water. The condition causes a decrease in oxygen in the blood and results in a blue-grey skin colour, causes lethargy and/or irritability and can lead to death.
ROOT BURN PROBLEM Root burn is a condition where the root of plants suffers damage from the overuse of chemical fertilizers. According to Optimara/Holtkamp Greenhouses, low-quality fertilizers often contain urea, which is a source of nitrogen. Over fertilizing with high-quality fertilizers can lead to root burn due to an overabundance of soluble salts in the soil. The salts essentially burn the roots, and even sometimes the foliage. Plants that suffer from root burn become stunted, wilted and are often unable to flower. In severe cases of root burn, the roots may not be able to carry any water to the plant. This has impact not only on the aquatic ecosystem, but on local societies who depend on food sourced from those areas.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM Excessive chemical fertilizers can be washed by rain and drains eventually, making its way into bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes causing pollution. Although the environmental impact is considerably larger from the overuse of fertilizers on farms — simply due to the amount they use — it’s also a problem from fertilizers use in home gardens. The misuse of fertilizer often has negative effects on fish and other aquatic animals. Algae feed off of the nutrients in fertilizers, using up oxygen that fish and other animals need. Additionally, ammonia released by fertilizer is harmful to fish.
HOW TO PREVENT THIS HAZARDS • Your borehole or well water should be tested regularly by a reputable laboratory. • Reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. • Support organic and sustainable agriculture. • Take part in protecting organic practices and standards.
Thus, washing of fruits and vegetables from the market before eating them is very important.
It is better to stick to organic manure, because it does not have any harmful effect on humans and it is environmental friendly or you minimize the use of chemical fertilizers on your farm.