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The Effect Of Fertilisers On The Environment

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Introduction

The Effect Of Fertilisers On The Environment. The use of fertilisers and their effect on the environment is a much-debated issue. There are positive and negative effects which must be considered throughout this essay. It is difficult to say which argument outweighs the other, and whether usage should be continued, abolished or more heavily controlled. 'Fertilisers are chemicals given to plants with the intention of promoting growth; they are applied either via the soil or by foliar spraying' (Wikipedia, 2005). Varying proportions of the three major plant nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are used as well as other chemicals in inorganic fertilisers. Organic fertilisers can be used to 'improve the production of new biomass in ... ecosystems' (Fullick, 2000). Manure was once the most popular fertiliser, as 'many UK and US a farmer's were 'mixed' farmers' (Fullick, 2000) producing livestock and crops, and is still a predominant organic fertiliser. 'Crop rotation' (Fullick, 2000) is another method of Organic Fertilisation. ...read more.

Middle

The process emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which may be damaging the whole world environment by adding to Global Warming. 'Diffuse pollution' (www.environment-agency.gov.uk) is a major negative effect of fertilisers. Agricultural activities are a major contributor to diffuse pollution, including fertilisation of crops. Nitrogen and Phosphorous cause the majority of diffuse pollution, as Potassium is 'taken up by plant roots rapidly' (www.agric.nsw.gov.au) and therefore, minimises the chances of potassium being leached into the surrounding environment. Diffuse pollution and leaching of fertiliser chemicals and organic fertilisers such as manure, as well as 'a third of nitrogen applied (as fertiliser) to farms [which] emerges as animal waste' (www.newscientist.com) often results in the most common negative effect; Eutrophication. When fertiliser chemicals such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and manure leach into rivers, streams and ponds. 'they provide nutrients for the water plant, algae and photosynthetic bacteria present in the water'. (Fullick, 2000) These products will then induce and encourage growth in algae and other water plants on a mass scale. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore, while some species main food source thrived, others food sources decreased resulting in loss of species. Increased human activity on crops to deal with the increased crop yields (due to fertiliser usage) will also be damaging to the environment, as many animal and bird species may be forced out of their natural habitat. This will reduce abundance of life in the environment and could be damaging to the local food chain. There are positive (mainly economical) and negative (mainly physical) effects which the use of fertilisers induce. Undoubtedly, the economic stability of many developing countries rely on a strong agricultural abilities. Fertilisers create and increase such abilities. However, the negative effects, such as Eutrophication and habitat loss, are damaging the environment around such countries, and many others. It is difficult to say which argument outweighs the other. The fact is, some countries and their people, would struggle to survive without organic and inorganic fertilisers, but the effect fertilisers are having on the environment may be damaging enough in future years to destroy those countries and people. ...read more.

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