Farms and Fertilizers

Why fertilizers and farms today are harmful to the Earth

Farms and fertlizers

Since about 9000 BC, humans have cultivated the Earth and coaxed precious sustenance from the ground. Farms help humans make clothes, food, and houses. Farmers have used natural and artificial fertilizers for almost 8000 years. Natural fertilizers such as manure, kelp, or compost can help your plants grow while being good for the soil and environment. Chemical fertilizers such as Nutrigrow, Miraclegrow, and Turf Builder actually harm the soil and the environment.

What do farms have to do with weather and climate?

Farms are connected to the weather and climate. Farms depend on weather to produce goods and grow crops. Depending on the location, if climate change becomes drastic many farms would be ruined. The soil would become infertile and dry due to lack of precipitation and too much heat. Desertification is already happening due to climate change, but the areas affected would only grow larger. Livestock would die due to dehydration or heat sickness. The climate and weather are also affected by the ferilizers that farms use. The fertilizers cause greenhouse gases to be emitted into the atmosphere. Cows produce methane into the air, which contributes to global warming. Climates and weather relate closely to farms.

So how do chemical fertilizers and farms affect climate?

You may be wondering how the fertilizers you use on your yard affect the weather and climate. Believe it or not, the so-called harmless chemicals used on gardens actually harm the climate. Many chemical fertilizers are made with fossil fuels. Fertilizers also are based on a nitrogen. The nitrogen causes the plants and soil to release nirtous oxide, one of the major greenhouse gases, at a faster rate. Nitrous Oxide is the third most potent greenhouse gas. It traps heat, becoming a major contributor to global warming. It also destroys ozone in the atmosphere, which is really important for protecting humans from ultraviolet rays.

As cows eat and chew cud, gas builds up in their bodies and has to be expelled. When they emit gas, it produces methane and releases it into the atmosphere. Keep in mind that there are about 1.5 billion cows on Earth right now. A danish study showed that cows actually produce more greenhouse gases than transport. Solutions are still being found for this problem but we need to try to limit the methane that cows are producing.

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The process how greenhouse gases destroy ozone in the atmosphere.

Environmental issues with farms and solutions to fix them

Cows producing methane

Cows producing methane and emitting it into the atmosphere is becoming a big problem. Methane is one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases because it is extremely potent at keeping in heat and destroying ozone particles in the atmosphere. One solution to this problem would be to contain the cows. Methane can be used to conduct electricity so if scientists could find a way to create an artificial environment for cows to live in the methane levels in the atmosphere would plummet. The downside of this idea is that making cows live in these artificial environments may be considered inhumane and also the costs of installing and maintaining these environments would be very expensive. Another solution would be to change the cow's diets. One way to change the diet would be to add garlic to the cow's feed. Garlic has proven qualities that destroy the methane producers in the cow's stomach. This solution would be inexpensive and efficient. The downsides of this solution is that cows may end up smelling worse than they already did and also their waste could end up in different forms. My last solution would be to have farmers install 'cow backpacks', which are plastic deflated bags that rest on cows' backs with a tube that collects the gas that the cows emit. The bags slowly inflate as they collect gas. Once they are full, farmers can take the bags and harness the methane inside for energy. This process would be efficient but also slightly inhumane and high maintenance. Cow's methane can be harnessed and used for good instead of letting it harm our atmosphere. It is vital to our atmosphere that we find a solution for this problem as soon as possible.
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Chemical Fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers are usually made with fossil fuels, such as nitrogen. When used, they cause the soil to release greenhouse gases at a faster rate. Chemical fertilizers do not help the soil at all, in fact it harms the soil. Many contain steroids to make the plants grow faster. Fertilizers also get into water supply when animals eat the plants that were fertilized or get it on their feet and go into the water. It is an environmental issue as well as a home issue. One solution to this problem would be to encourage Low Input farming. This is when farmers buy few chemical fertilizers and use organic fertilizers that are found on the farm such as manure or compost. After the harvest, farmers leave the field alone for the insects and decomposers to make the soil fertile again. To avoid nit having crops for more than one year at a time, farmers would use field rotation. This means that they would use one part of the field for one year and then leave it alone and go to the next part of the field. This would make farming easier and more environment-safe. The one downside of this solution would be that farmers would not be able to farm as many crops. As of right now, the US government has been focusing on climate change, but not in the agricultural areas. My next solution would be to pass a law in which no fossil fuel should be used in the making of fertilizers. Fertilizer production companies should be encouraged to use natural ingredients in fertilizers. This solution would be good for the environment but it may not be cost-efficient. My final solution would be would be to plant more cover crops. Cover crops are special plants planted near water that are known to keep unwanted nutrients out of the water. For example planting oats, crimson clover, or oil seed radishes. These plants are able to recycle excess nitrogen and reducing soil erosion. These cover crops can also be planted instead of using fertilizer to smother weeds and control pests at the farm. These plants are usually inexpensive to plant but will most likely take up more space on a farm. The chemical fertilizer problem has many good solutions.
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Desertification

Desertification is when a land that is already dry starts to become more and more dry. Typically it loses bodies of water. Then, it loses the fertility of the soil, and finally is unable to support most plants and animals. Desertification is caused by global warming and overfarming. It is a serious problem because there is about 12 million hectacres of land lost each year to desertification. Scientists predict that more than 50 million people will be displaced within the next 10 years due to desertification. No solution has been found to reverse the process of desertification, but some things can be done to prevent firther desertification. One solution would be to plant trees. When reforestation and tree regeneration is performed, that is one step further to preventing desertification. Deforestation happens when plants are unable to grow so when you plant trees it makes the soil more fertile. Planting trees is an easy and effective way to prevent desertification. The one problem is that when you plant a tree, someone may knock it right back down. But, the easiest solution to prevent desertification to an area is reforestation. Water harvesting is another easy way to solve the problem of desertification. If you recycle and reuse water, it makes it easier to fertilize other places. Deforestation happenens when a land becomes dry and receives less water. Harvesting rainwater is another great way to use water management. By harvesting rainwater we don't have to use precious sources of water elsewhere. Managing water is another really easy and inexpensive way to prevent desertification. Reusing water from the sky for gardens or farms would make it a lot easier to prevent desertification. The one problem is if you don't get enough rainwater you would have to use hose water. But if you try to use rainwater, you can make a difference and save a lot of water. Another solution to this problem would be to fertilize the soil when planting. Using organic fertilizers, like manure, can make the soil richer and healthier and prevent desertification. Fertilizers enrich the soil for future use. Desertification happens when the soil becomes infertile, so organic fertilizers do a huge job of preventing desertification. Desertification is a big problem for the future of farming so we have to work on preventing it before it becomes a drastic issue.
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Works Cited:

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United Nations. Background information on desertification and land degradation for world day to combat desertification - 17 June. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.un.org/en/events/desertificationday/background.shtml


Phys. Cow backpacks trap methane gas. Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://phys.org/news/2008-07-cow-backpacks-methane-gas.html


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Scientific American. (2016). How fertilizers harm earth more than help your lawn. Retrieved May 6, 2016, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-fertilizers-harm-earth/


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