Let's Get Growing Copyright "1993l

Why Do Organic Grower's Disapprove of Chemical Fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers are Quick-acting, short-term plant boosters and are responsible for: (1) deterioration of soil friability, creating hardpans soil, (2) destruction of beneficial soil life, including earthworms,(3) altering vitamin and protein content of certain crops, (4) making certain crops more vulnerable to diseases, and (5) preventing plants from absorbing some needed minerals.

The soil must be regarded as a living organism. An acid fertilizer, because of its acids, dissolves the cementing material, made up of the dead bodies of soil organisms, which holds the rock particles together in the form of soil crumbs. This compact surface layer of rock particles encourages rain water to run off rather than enter the soil.

For example: A highly soluble fertilizer, such as 5-10-5, goes into solution in the soil water rapidly so that much of it may be leached away (into our ground water) without benefiting the plants at all. This chemical causes the soil to assume a cement-like hardness. When present in large concentrations, recolate into the subsoil where they interact with the clay to form impervious layers of precipitates called hardpan.

. Many artificial chemical fertilizers contain acids, as sulfuric and hydrochloric, which will increase the acidity of the soil. Changes in the soil acidity (pH) are accompanied by the changes in the kinds of organisms which can live in the soil. For this reason, the artificial fertilizer people tell their customers to increase the organic matter content of their soil, offsetting the deleterious effects of these acids; also to use lime.

There are several ways by which artificial fertilizers reduce aeration of soils. Earthworms, whose numerous borings made the soil more porous,are killed. The acid fertilizers will also destroy the cementing material which bins rock particles together in crumbs.Chemical fertilizers rob plants of some natural immunity by killing off the microorganisms in the soil. Many plant diseases have already been considerably checked when antibiotic producing bacteria or fungi thrived around the roots. When plaints are supplied with much nitrogen (N) and only a medium amount of phosphate (P), plants will most easily contract mosaic infections. Host resistance is obtained if there is a small amount of nitrogen (N) and a large supply of phosphate (P). Fungus and bacterial diseases have been relate< to high nitrogen fertilization, and lack of trace elements.

Plants grown with artificial chemical fertilizers tend to have less nutrient value than organically grown plants. For example, several tests have found that by supplying citrus fruits with a large amount of soluble nitrogen will lower the vitamin C content of oranges. It has also been found, that these fertilizers that provide soluble nitrogen will lower the capacity of corn to produce a high protein content.

Probably the most regularly observed deficiency in plants doped continual with chemical fertilizers are deficiencies in trace minerals. To explain this principle will mean delving into a little physics and chemistry, but you will then easily see the unbalanced nutrition created in chemical fertilized plants Note: The colloidal humus particles are the convoys that transfer most of the minerals from the soil solution to the root hairs. Each humus particle is negatively charged and will, attract the positive elements, such as potassium (K), sodium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, boron, iron, copper and other metals. When sodium nitrate, is dumped into the soil year after year, in large doses, a radical change takes place on the humus articles.

The very numerous sodium ions (atomic particles) will eventually crowd out the other ions, making them practically unavailable for plant use. The humus becomes coated with sodium, glutting the root hairs with the excess. Finally, the plant is unable to pick up the minerals that it really needs.

So, with chemical fertilizers, in short, you have short-time results,and long-term damage to the soil, ground water and to our health.

Register now for ongoing evening gardening classes with Crow Miller at Spring Meadow Organic Farm. Call 862-6667.

Copyright 1993