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The use of fertilisers in farming.

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Introduction

The use of fertilisers in farming Plants or in this case crops make their own food through photosynthesis, but in order to do so require nutrients. These come in two main forms: Macronutrients and Micronutrients. The primary nutrients that plants use include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, of which are usually depleted first in the soil because plants use large amounts of them for their growth. Secondary nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulphur, but there are usually enough of these nutrients in the soil. Micronutrients include boron, copper, iron, chloride, manganese, molybdenum and zinc of which are all elements essential for plant growth but are only required in small amounts. In order to produce a good harvest plants need ideal conditions to grow. This includes having the right amounts of light, water, an appropriate temperature and a supply of inorganic ions such as nitrate, phosphate and potassium. (3 and 9) In farming the crop plants are harvested. Thus, nutrients are removed from the soil instead of allowing the inorganic ions present in the plants to decompose back into the soil. Unlike natural ecosystems fertilisers are needed to restore nutrient levels in the soil to provide optimum plant growth conditions to maximise yields. Under natural conditions the soil nutrients are recycled. ...read more.

Middle

Plants only absorb more nitrogen than potassium, while in some cases calcium is required in the second greatest quantities of all mineral elements. Thus, it is clear that these three macronutrients are vital for optimum crop growth and maximising farmers' yields, which in turn means greater profits for the farmer. (3,1) Fertilisers are essential in farming to ensure the precise amounts of nutrients are present in the soils, therefore maximising crop yields and profits. Thus, they form the largest item of a farmer's discretionary expenditure. Good soil fertility means good crop/pasture production. To achieve this level of soil fertility and vigorous pasture growth usually means applying fertilisers. Farmers use either organic or inorganic fertilisers. Organic fertilisers include manures, bone meal and other animal products and have long been used as a source of nutrients for cultivated soils. Approximately three- fourths of the nutrients harvested in crops grown on a farm may be recycled back to crop soils in the form of manure. Inorganic fertilisers or artificial fertilisers are made from raw materials found in nature, which are then processed to make them more soluble and readily available to plants, both of which allow for more precise management and timely release of available nutrients to the crop. ...read more.

Conclusion

The resulting toxins and anoxic conditions kill fish and other aquatic organisms, thereby destroying the balanced ecosystem. (1,9) World use of fertilisers for farming In 1960/61, world nitrogen fertilizer nutrient consumption, in million tonnes was 10.83 but by 2000/01 it had increases over seven fold to 80.80 million tonnes. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations forecast that fertilizer consumption will have to increase from the present level of 138 million tonnes N+P2O5+K2O to between 167 and 199 million tonnes per year by 2030. This represents an annual growth rate of between 0.7 and 1.3 percent per annum, which compares with an average annual increase of 2.3% p.a. between 1970 and 2000. (13) Conclusion Although fertilisers can prove to be invaluable for farmers in an effort to increase their crop yields, they can also be a hindrance to the environment and ultimately the farmer who will have to pay for the clean up operations. However, it is now recognised that greater fertiliser additions will not always increase crop yields. The nutrient levels of many soils, excluding that of sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions, are already nearing optimal levels. Thus, farmers are more likely to benefit from yield increases from advances in nutrient and water use efficiency, improved crop rotations and the utilisation of higher-yielding crop varieties. Sources 1. Soils, Dubbin.W, published by The Natural History Museum, London (Page references 59,60, 64,69,70-74,104,105) 2. ...read more.

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