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Essay/Term paper: Differences and effects of natural and synthetic fertilizers

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Science Reports

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Differences and Effects of Natural and Synthetic Fertilizers

At the core of the growth and germination of plants lie the nutrients they
receive from the soil. The nutrients required for growth are classified into
two groupings, macronutirents and micronutrients. Macronutrients are those that
are needed in very large amounts, and whose absence can do a great harm to the
development of the plant life. These nutrients include calcium, nitrogen,
phosphorus, and potassium, and are very sparse in most soils, making them the
primary ingredients in most fertilizers. The other, more common macronutrients
are called secondary nutrients, as they are not of as much importance.
Micronutrients, the other classification, consist of all the other elements and
compounds required for sufficient growth, such as iron, boron, manganese, copper,
zinc, molybdenum and chlorine. In some cases, these nutrients are found to be
missing in soils, but it is extremely uncommon.
As plants need to retrieve all of their nutrients from the soil, many
methods have been developed in order to find ways to improve or change the soil
to suit the plant's needs. Soil, in science as well as in common gardening,
must undergo detailed inspection, to detect such things as the pH of the soil.
A soil with a pH above 7.0 is called an alkaline soil, and will commonly kill
plants. Mineral content, as mentioned above, is also a concern, and must be
clearly monitored. After inspection, it is common for minor organic materials
outside fertilizers to be applied, such as peat moss, ground bark, or leaf mold.
It is after these steps that fertilization must occur, leading to a debate which
has plagued gardeners and scientists alike: organic or chemical?
Fertilizers, in both natural and synthetic breeds, are carriers of the
primary and secondary nutrients that are found less often in even the most
fertile soils. Fertilizers are mixtures that are mixed or applied to soil, thus
greatly increasing its potency and maximizing plant growth. As mentioned before,
however, there are both natural and inorganic fertilizers, all with varying
effects. The compositional differences of these types are great, indeed.
Natural fertilizers, as one would expect, are totally organic, and usually come
from the manure of animals. These are the fertilizers that produced the forests
of the world, among much other plant life in ecosystems, and have been used
since ancient times. Chemical fertilizers are a more recent invention,
consisting of carefully concentrated mixtures of nutrients, formulated for quick
growth. These can take many forms, from powder, to "dirt", to even tablets!
Natural fertilizers, as mentioned above, include the various types of
manure and other animal waste products, as well as compost, which is a mixture
of various decaying plant and animal products mixed together to form a variable
"feast" of nutrients and minerals. Uncountable types of these nutrient boosters
have been developed by agriculturists, involving such oddities as kelp parts,
dish meal, blood meal, and even ground gypsum! These different fertilizers tend
to work well with plants, and many scientific agricultural experiments have
shown them to be very effective in long term stages, with the only drawback
being a slow growth process. Crops grown this way have shown to become, in the
long run, larger, healthier, and above all, 100% non-toxic.
The other method of fertilization that of chemicals offers major
advantages over organic, but just as undesirable complications. Chemical
fertilizers have the major advantage of containing a near perfect mixture of all
the nutrients necessary for growth, as well as being time-released to give the
plant a steady flow of mineral supply. This causes extremely fast growth, with
an initially healthy stock. Unfortunately these chemicals, which all their
benefit, can easily cause what is called "fertilizer burn". This state is where
fertilizer produces too many nutrients: this overloads the plants biological
systems, and effectively kills the plant. Also, the chemicals often harm plants
over time, causing ill health and quicker death than natural fertilizers, as
soil organisms die out form over exposure, reducing the soil quality. Plants
grown with chemical fertilizers have a greater chance of disease and toxicity,
but the initial growth usually offsets these complications


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