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chemical vs. organic fertilizer

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  • Paul King
    Future Salon ... While not taking a position on ox dung vs. chemical fertilizer, I would like to point out that there is a lot we don t know about how
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 19, 2008
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      Future Salon
      > I have a bone to pick with an insane English teacher who thinks
      > that technology is dooming the planet and that we need to return to having oxen plow the
      > fields and stop using "Chemical" fertilizers (when I tried to explain to her that the "Ox Dung"
      > she so highly prized as a fertilizer was just a collection of chemicals in a matrix of digested
      > Ox food... She told me that I did not know what I was talking about.... Anyway, like I said -
      > insane English Teacher),

      While not taking a position on ox dung vs. chemical fertilizer, I would like to point out that there is a lot we don't know about how biologically generated organic material interfaces with the ecosystem.

      To say that ox dung is a collection of chemicals in a matrix of digested ox food is to draw an imaginary distinction between "chemicals" and "digested food". The reality is that ox dung is both. It is 100% digested food, and also 100% chemicals. Synthetic fertilizer contains a subset of those chemicals (or different chemicals even) in concentrated form. How synthetic fertilizer interacts with the ecosystem and whether that interaction is, on the whole, good or bad is still a matter of ongoing research and scientific debate. For example, the use of synthetic fertilizers is believed to cause secondary problems to the soil over long periods.
      http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/internal/preview.cfm?NID=4185

      This wikipedia article discusses problems associated with artificial fertilizer use:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertilizer#Risks_of_fertilizer_use

      My main point is that concern about the effects of chemical fertilizer on the ecosystem is scientifically supported and is not insane. Ox dung is not the answer, since farm animals also place a heavy burden on the ecosystem. But we are justified in questioning current practices. Composting is emerging as a way of reducing waste and reducing soil composition imbalance at the same time.

      Paul


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Richard P. Karasik- M.Eng, PE, ABMP
      Please distinguish synthetic fertilizer, from organic fertilizer, from chemical Everything is atoms too. Tomatoes need atoms to make bigger tomatoes, but
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 21, 2008
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        Please distinguish synthetic fertilizer, from organic fertilizer, from
        "chemical" Everything is atoms too. Tomatoes need atoms to make bigger
        tomatoes, but we don't drop an atomic bomb on a tomato patch and say-
        there you go - bunches of atoms- now grow you little suckers!

        Even "ox dung" by itself is not a fertilizer. It has components in it
        that when broken down appropriately will
        fertilize plants - hence composting. Any gardener knows you cannot put
        raw dung on a field of tender plants and
        expect anything except disaster. You can sheet compost, side dress etc
        etc. But all fertilization
        depends on the interaction of the materials with air, earth, and water.

        Chemical fertilizers on the other hand might be considered to be too
        simplistic for sustainability. First of all, most are not really
        fertilizers but
        a few CRUCIAL nutrients packaged as jet fuel for plants. many of the
        synthetic "fertilizers" not synthetic " chemicals" contain acids
        which negatively impact the soil bacteria which are crucial to sustain
        plant growth.

        Another strong point is that "fertilizer" contains a bunch of
        micro-nutrients too. it is used as much to husband the soil as it is the
        plant. The only thing about "artificial fertilizer" ( and that is their
        term - it is not accurate) is that it misses the micro-nutrients
        necessary to husband the soil bacteria. Hence composting as the viable
        choice. It has been found that orange trees jet fueled with nitrogen
        "fertilizers" produce smaller fruit with less vitamin C. They have
        certainly been fed a bunch of chemicals but as with people and
        medicine- just filling them up full of "pills" does not meet the needs
        of a healthy body or plant.

        If you look very carefully the chemical industry has done a great job
        of erasing common distinctions between "vital nutrients", "trace
        elements", soil health, etc by calling what they sell "fertilizer". It
        simply ain't so. Ask any real plant specialist about the total
        complexity needed for sustainable plant health.


        On the other side, technology is an interesting toy we seem to have fun
        with which occasionally makes a lot of smoke and noise, occasionally
        does some amazing things, and sometimes gives us nightmares. It has gone
        from being an "engineering" manifestation of scientific principles to a
        race for VC funding - even if all you have is just a toy and does
        nothing more than amuse ( ok i would put video games squarely in that
        camp). Technology without a social need or context - as a tool for
        aiding mankind, is about as effective as masturbating is for making
        babies - amusing, sometimes exhilarating, but often leaving messes to
        clean up.

        Yelling at technology as being the problem is like complaining about
        gravity. Go ahead if it amuses you, but if you want to be effective you
        might explore the people involved and not the things.
        Richard

        Paul King wrote:
        >
        > Future Salon
        > > I have a bone to pick with an insane English teacher who thinks
        > > that technology is dooming the planet and that we need to return to
        > having oxen plow the
        > > fields and stop using "Chemical" fertilizers (when I tried to
        > explain to her that the "Ox Dung"
        > > she so highly prized as a fertilizer was just a collection of
        > chemicals in a matrix of digested
        > > Ox food... She told me that I did not know what I was talking
        > about.... Anyway, like I said -
        > > insane English Teacher),
        >
        > While not taking a position on ox dung vs. chemical fertilizer, I
        > would like to point out that there is a lot we don't know about how
        > biologically generated organic material interfaces with the ecosystem.
        >
        > To say that ox dung is a collection of chemicals in a matrix of
        > digested ox food is to draw an imaginary distinction between
        > "chemicals" and "digested food". The reality is that ox dung is both.
        > It is 100% digested food, and also 100% chemicals. Synthetic
        > fertilizer contains a subset of those chemicals (or different
        > chemicals even) in concentrated form. How synthetic fertilizer
        > interacts with the ecosystem and whether that interaction is, on the
        > whole, good or bad is still a matter of ongoing research and
        > scientific debate. For example, the use of synthetic fertilizers is
        > believed to cause secondary problems to the soil over long periods.
        > http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/internal/preview.cfm?NID=4185
        > <http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/news/internal/preview.cfm?NID=4185>
        >
        > This wikipedia article discusses problems associated with artificial
        > fertilizer use:
        > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertilizer#Risks_of_fertilizer_use
        > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertilizer#Risks_of_fertilizer_use>
        >
        > My main point is that concern about the effects of chemical fertilizer
        > on the ecosystem is scientifically supported and is not insane. Ox
        > dung is not the answer, since farm animals also place a heavy burden
        > on the ecosystem. But we are justified in questioning current
        > practices. Composting is emerging as a way of reducing waste and
        > reducing soil composition imbalance at the same time.
        >
        > Paul
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >

        --
        Richard P. Karasik
        STEMTech Director
        408 472 2732
        www.stemcellhealthy.com StemEnhance
        www.tocorehealth.com
        http://www.orthomolecularnutrition.com/retail/ ASCORSINE 9
        www.nikkenhealth.biz Ciaga & Barley Enzymes
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