A fertiliser can be organic or synthetic. This section will focus on synthetic fertilisers, which helped create modern agriculture and one factor in population growth, as it is one factor that allowed for more crop yields and more people to be fed. Synthetic fertilisers are also widely available for gardening. The main aim of a fertiliser is to assist a plant in growing by providing nutrients to it via the soil.
– Whilst synthetic fertilisers provide key nutrients and elements to a plant, they often neglect other secondary nutrients like magnesium, which plants need too. (ref)
– Fertilisers can have such a high saturation of only the key three chemicals that it over-saturates the soil, blocking the plant from absorbing other key nutrients. These oversaturated soils can become too toxic for micro-organisms to live in, or make them thrive and devour the plant being fertilised. (ref)
– Over application of fertiliser can lead to it being washed away, making its way into water systems and becoming a pollutant, leading to unwanted growth (ref) and impacting the entire ecosystem. (ref)
Fertilisers can help plant growth, however, over application of synthetic fertilisers can lead to them leaking into the environment and causing issues for local wildlife as plants begin to grow uncontrollably. Along with this, in order to be made, synthetic fertilisers require minerals to be mined and made, cause many environmental issues in the process. There are many alternatives available, and examples can be found in the “Alternatives” section of this page.
– Organic fertilisers are a good alternative to chemicals. They are found in the environment or produced from nature. Cow manure, kelp, limestone etc. are all examples which can assist a plant in growing and gaining nutrients.(ref) However, their effectiveness is limited seasonally and they will not all have nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. See more.
– Whilst peat is organic and can be used as an alternate, its huge environmental impact should be taken into account.
– Nettles, grass and other organic matter can all give nutrients to soil, acting as fertiliser. (ref)