Want to find out more about fertilizer and fertilizer in Canada? Check out our frequently asked questions to find the answers!
Fertilizer and the Environment Wouldn’t it be better for the environment to use less fertilizer?
By adopting nutrient stewardship practices, such as 4R Nutrient Stewardship, farmers contribute to the preservation of natural ecosystems by growing more on less land. As a result of advances in agricultural practices, farmers have been able to use fertilizer more efficiently.
It is important to maintain nutrient levels in the soil, for the overall health and longevity of a crop. An insufficient supply also reduces plants ability to withstand harsh weather, disease, and other stresses. Plants require adequate nutrients to maintain soil moisture, which leads to soil erosion from wind or water.
Although dry weather played a key role in the dust bowl conditions of the 1930s, insufficient levels of nutrients were at the root of the vicious cycle of problems that plagued Depression-era farmers. Plants could not help the soil hold enough moisture, which in turn caused increased wind erosion.
Fertilizer and the Environment Is fertilizer harmful to the environment?
Commercial fertilizer has become an indispensable tool in today’s high-yield farming. It requires careful application and use to protect our environment. Fortunately, advances in agricultural techniques are enabling farmers to apply soil nutrients with pinpoint accuracy, minimizing or avoiding any damage to soil, water, and air.
New soil sampling, use of starter fertilizers, and better timing and placement of nutrients mean producers are producing their crops more efficiently. For example, farmers today are producing one-third more corn for each pound of nitrogen they apply, compared to 20 years ago.
Fertilizer and Food Are organic foods better because they are grown without fertilizer?
Most organic growers use fertilizer too. It is made from different ingredients though, such as livestock manure or sewage sludge. However, these natural fertilizers are not available in sufficient quantities to meet the demands of today’s high-yield farming, nor do they provide nutrients in the custom combinations possible with commercial fertilizers. Typically, compared to a farm using conventional fertilizer, organic crops produce one-third to one-half less yield. For example, using enough manure to provide an adequate supply of nitrogen would mean adding four to five times more potassium and phosphorus than a crop needs. So it is easy to over or under fertilize in this type of farming.
There is no concrete evidence to suggest organically grown food is better than food grown with conventional fertilizer. The three main ingredients used in fertilizer – nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulphur – are found naturally in the soil and are required by all forms of life.
Fertilizer and Food What role do fertilizers play in feeding a growing world population?
Fertilizers play a role in helping feed the world. Thanks to modern fertilizers, world food production has more than doubled since 1960. Today, an estimated one-third to one-half of our global food supply is directly linked to the use of commercial fertilizers.
If we are to meet future food demands, we will need to double our current levels of production. We can’t do that without fertilizers. Continuing to make better and more efficient use of fertilizer will help us feed the growing population.
Fertilizer Fundamentals What are the essential mineral nutrients?
- Macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur
- Micronutrients: boron, chloride, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel and zinc
- Essential or beneficial for some plant species, not all: silicon, sodium, cobalt
- Essential for animals but not for plants: selenium
Fertilizer Fundamentals Where does nitrogen come from?
The air all around us contains nitrogen. In fact, nitrogen makes up about 78 percent of the atmosphere. Fertilizer producers combine nitrogen with natural gas to change it into a form that plants can use.
Fertilizer Fundamentals Where does potassium come from?
Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the earth’s crust. Through natural processes, it is filtered into the planet’s seas and oceans. As these bodies of water evaporate over time, they leave behind mineral deposits. Potassium is mined from these deposits.
Fertilizer Fundamentals Where does phosphorus come from?
Phosphorus used in fertilizer comes from the fossilized remains of ancient marine life found in rock deposits. This raw ore is processed to create water-soluble compounds that make the phosphorus available to plants as a nutrient.
Phosphorus helps early plant health and root growth and is involved in seed germination to ensure plants use water efficiently. Phosphorus provides the energy that a plant needs to grow.
Fertilizer Fundamentals Do farmers need to use fertilizer?
Farmers use fertilizer to replenish the nutrients drawn from the soil, which plants need to grow. When a crop goes to market, so too does the potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen it has absorbed from the soil. When farmers fertilize, they put back into the soil the nutrients their next crop will require.
While the same nutrients in fertilizer are naturally found in soil, they are not present in a sufficient supply for today’s high-yield farming. It can take years – even decades – for soil to rebuild the necessary nutrients essential to nurture a good crop.
Fertilizer Fundamentals Are there chemicals in fertilizer?
The four main ingredients in fertilizer: nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and sulphur come from nature. They are not man-made. Fertilizer manufacturers convert them into a form that plants can use.
Fertilizer producers can blend nutrients into precise combinations to match the unique needs of different farms, crops, and fields. In this way, farmers can feed their soils with the most effective and efficient blend of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen to achieve optimal yields.