Effects of organic vs. inorganic fertilizer on the environment

Written by april fidler
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Effects of organic vs. inorganic fertilizer on the environment
Organic and inorganic fertiliser can affect the environment. (lawn image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com)

Organic and inorganic fertilisers are used to perk up your lawn by strengthening the root system of your grass. Inorganic fertilisers consist of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium chemical mixtures. These are chemicals normally found in your soil; however, fertiliser contains these nutrients in much larger quantities. Organic fertilisers consist of compost, bat guano, manure, sewage sludge, sea weed, algae or peat moss. These natural materials break down into nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium over time, as they decompose. Inorganic and organic fertilisers both affect the environment, but in different ways.

Poisoned Water

Organic and inorganic fertilisers can be whisked off the surface of soil and flushed into rivers, streams and ponds. Suddenly, these extra nutrients cause an algae explosion, thus starving the water of oxygen for fish and other plant life.

Bacteria, Microorganisms, Parasites and Fungi

The most popular organic fertilisers tend to be those made from biodegrading foods and plant compounds. According to scientists at North Dakota State University, these fertilisers tend to house listeria, salmonella and E. coli bacteria, which can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and body aches in humans and animals who come in contact with them. Microorganisms, parasites and fungi can also be carried on many organic fertilisers, causing hookworm and pinworm infections, as well as fungal infections.

Odours and Gases

Organic fertilisers tend to stink and can be considered a nuisance by neighbours. As ammonia---a poisonous gas found in some organic fertilisers like manure and sewage sludge---soaks into the fields, it becomes airborne and is then released when it rains.

Birth Defects

Reproduction problems and birth defects such as "blue-baby syndrome" have been attributed to the nitrates in inorganic fertilisers getting into the drinking water, according to a study done by North Dakota State University.

Endocrine, Immune and Nervous System Malfunctions

According to a study done by James W. Jaeger and Ian H. Carlson at University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1999, nitrate, a commonly used fertiliser, can cause endocrine, immune and nervous system malfunctions.

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