Whether you tend to a small garden or spend your days doing farm work, there’s no denying that fertilizer is vital to ensuring that your plants grow up as healthy as possible and bear nutritious fruits and vegetables. Chemical fertilizers are extremely popular and cheap, but they pose numerous risks that should make you think twice about using them in your garden or farm.
They’re Not as Cost-Effective as They Seem
The lower price of many chemical fertilizers is what tends to sway most buyers, especially agricultural workers who want to save money for the sake of their business. However, you may have to spend more money on chemical fertilizers since they require more reapplication than organic fertilizers. Chemically processed fertilizers get absorbed quickly while organic alternatives break down more slowly and last longer.
They Can Damage Your Plants and Soil
It may sound counter-intuitive to claim that something meant to make the soil more nutritious can be damaging to your crops, but it’s true. In the short term, chemical fertilizers do as they advertise and provide plants with plenty of nutrition, but in the long term, it can severely damage the soil, rob nearby wild plant life of nutrients and kill your homegrown plants.
Chemical fertilizers don’t replenish any substances being taken from the soil as organic fertilizer does. Once the soil has been fertilized chemically too many times, the nitrogen starts lowering the pH of the soil to a point where it becomes acidic. Plants grow slowly and poorly in acidified soil, and they may become burned and withered if the pH level is too low.
Additionally, while having plenty of nutrients in the soil is good, overdoing it can overwhelm your plants and cause them to die.
They Make Your Fruits and Vegetables Less Nutritious
Properly fertilized soil makes plants flourish quickly, but that speed comes with a price. Studies have shown that plants grown with chemical fertilizers are less nutritious than those raised on organic fertilizer. The problem lies in the fact that chemical fertilizers rely almost entirely on only three nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While this assortment of nutrients does help plants grow quickly, they lack other essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium, and zinc. Plants have these nutrients by default, but their concentration decreases substantially if the plant’s food source doesn’t provide them insufficient levels.
The Cause Soil and Water Pollution
Considering the acidic nature of chemically processed fertilizers, it was a common thought for decades that bacteria were usually killed off when exposed to it. However, the exact opposite was true. Bacteria in the soil can become overly stimulated by the chemicals, causing them to consume far more organic matter than the nearby decaying plant life can replenish.
When introduced to waterways, the high levels of nutrients and phosphorus causes aquatic plant life and algae to grow too much and too quickly. When they start decomposing, the oxygen in the water depletes at an alarming rate. As a result, the fish suffocate and die.
They Create a Greenhouse Effect
The high levels of nitrogen are usually too much for plants to absorb at once. The rest is released into the air. Nitrogen acts in a similar manner to carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere, creating a greenhouse effect, acid rain and possibly being a contributing factor to climate change.
They’re Dangerous to Pets and Wild Animals
Animals love to dig around in gardens, run around farmlands, put anything they find into their mouths and then lick their paws. If consumed, the chemicals in certain fertilizers can cause negative health effects in your pets, such as vomiting, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and even seizures. While modern-day fertilizers aren’t quite as hazardous to animals as they once were, they still pose a significant threat.
They Pose a Human Health Risk
The topic of health risks in connection with chemical fertilizers is controversial, but there’s no denying that there are some prominent concerns. Some ingredients have been known to cause symptoms, such as skin irritation, respiratory problems, nausea, and convulsions. Chemically processed fertilizers have pesticides in them that have been linked to an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as leukemia, brain cancer, lymphoma, and prostate cancer.