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The Use and Abuse of Organic and Inorganic Fertilisers

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Introduction

The Use and Abuse of Organic and Inorganic Fertilisers Fertilisers provide nutrients needed by a crop to grow by adding mineral salts to the soil. (1) (6) Organic fertilisers include manure, compost and sewage sludge. Inorganic fertilisers however, are liquids or pellets containing mineral ions and they are made either from naturally occurring rocks or by industrial processes. The main soil nutrients found in these fertilisers are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are present in concentrated form. Both types of fertiliser are added to increase crop yield but there are differences in their uses as will be shown later. (7) (6) However, all fertilisers must be used with caution as the misuse or overuse of them can lead to serious problems. Eutrophication is the main environmental hazard associated with fertilisers. (1) The three main soil nutrients named above are called macro-nutrients as they are required in large amounts and they all help produce a higher yield. ...read more.

Middle

However, this would mean that they are ineffective in a single season. (3) As organic fertilisers are lower in strength they are unlikely to "scorch" a root and kill the plant. They also encourage beneficial soil bacteria whereas chemical fertilisers have shown to kill them. (4) Organic fertilizers also place fewer demands on energy resources, and they offer opportunities to recycle "garbage". (3) There are many other advantages of organic fertilisers too such as how they contain more nutrients including trace elements and how they improve the crumb structure of the soil. (9) But synthetic fertilisers do have some of their own advantages too. They are easier to obtain, handle, transport and apply and they are quicker acting and cheaper. (9) However, when using a fertiliser, great care must be taken especially when deciding the amount to use. Not only does their use have consequences but also the law of diminishing returns is present. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, all fertilisers must be used with care and caution. Not only must the correct fertiliser be chosen (organic or inorganic) which is more suitable for the circumstances but also the quantity used is very important. Incorrect quantities can lead to the waste of fertilisers but also, more importantly, can have serious detrimental effects on the surrounding environment. However, reduction in diffuse pollution from agriculture can only be achieved by appropriate land management techniques and farmers need quality advice to enable this. Therefore, legislation has been passed by the Environment Agency and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) exists which produces guidelines for fertiliser use and draws up action plans for farmers in areas that are likely to exceed levels set by the European Union. (1) Other organisations also help such as the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association (FMA) which "represents the views and interests of the fertiliser industry to governments and to appropriate organisations and bodies, and promotes the proper and responsible use of fertilisers. ...read more.

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