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Fertilizers and Pesticides

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Submitted By apiko
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Fertilizes and pesticides have been really important to farmers all over the world and the consumption of such chemicals increase every year even though in Greece the consumption decreases. “Fertilizers are any solid, liquid or gaseous substances containing one or more plant nutrients in known amount, that is applied to the soil, directly on the plant (foliage) or added to aqueous solutions (as in fertigation) to maintain soil fertility, improve crop development, yield and/or crop quality” (International Fertilizer Industry, No Date). From the other hand “pesticides are chemicals used to prevent, destroy, or repel pests” (EPA, 5/9/2012). Fertilizes and pesticides have a big history which starts decade ago as technology improves the methods of using pesticides and fertilizers changes rapidly. The first pesticide according to Toxipedia (Katerina Lah, May 09 2011) was created by the Chinese around 1000BC and it was sulfur, the Chinese were using sulfur back then to control bacteria and fungus. Sulfur is also used nowadays from farmers in fungides to protect the plant from diseases. The next big invention again by the Chinese was arsenic, arsenic was uses as insecticide (Kill insects) and as herbicide (Weed killer). This category of pesticides is called mineral and metals, but the most important pesticides that humans use are the synthetic ones. The most important synthetic pesticides are the DDTs. DDT was firs use in huge amount in WWII to control the lice that spread typhus and the mosquitos that were causing malaria. As a result the use of DDT let to the decrease of bot diseases. After the WWII DDT was mainly used as an insecticide in farming and it got very popular. DDT started increasing rapidly and nowadays almost 4000-5000 tones are used. Farmers nowadays still use pesticides even though the effect of pesticides are many and very harmful to us and the environment. Obviously the most important hazard for human health caused by pesticides is cancer. Organizations have found that people expose to pesticides are most likely to have cancer so farmers must be really careful and use the right safety equipment when they use pesticides. Pesticides have also a negative effect on the environment, the most hazardous ones are that pesticides kill microorganisms and pollute the water and solid which will harm your cultivation. In my opinion the biggest problem is cause by DDT which is bio magnification. "Bio magnification is the sequence of processes in an ecosystem by which higher concentrations of a particular chemical, such as the pesticide DDT, are reached in organisms higher up the food chain, generally through a series of prey-predator relationships” (Oxford University 2008). According to studies the first use of fertilizers was not for an agriculture use, in 19th fertilizers were used to treat bones. Later this century scientist found out nitrogen’s huge role in plant growth, and thus the discover nitrogen fixation which is the ability to absorb nitrogen from the air and transform into a substance that plants can use. In 1990 Fritz Haber a German chemist found the process to synthesize pant available nitrate from the air. Synthetic fertilizers “grew” popular after the WWI, because facilities that were producing ammonia and synthetic nitrate for explosive were converting to the production of nitrogen fertilizers. Fertilizers as well as pesticides have also negative effects to the environment and humans. The biggest problem with fertilizers is water contamination. Nitrogen fertilizers are soluble in water and thus nitrogen breaks down into nitrates and travel easily through soil, nitrates remain to the soil and with addition of more nitrogen it result to a contamination of water. The contamination of water leads more hazardous effects. One of the scariest effect of chemical fertilizers is actually on infants. The disease is called blue baby syndrome and it will occur if they give a formula reconstituted with contaminated water, this disease can also lead to death. Last but note leas its eutrophication, “eutrophication is the enrichment of bodies of fresh water by inorganic plant nutrients (e.g. nitrate, phosphate). It may occur naturally but can also be the result of human activity (cultural eutrophication from fertilizer runoff and sewage discharge) and is particularly evident in slow-moving rivers and shallow lakes … Increased sediment deposition can eventually raise the level of the lake or river bed, allowing land plants to colonize the edges, and eventually converting the area to dry land.”(Lawrence and Jackson, 1998) Technology increases rapidly thus the ways you can spray pesticides change as years pass by. Previous years farmers used to have a normal manual backpack sprayer which was very harmful especially if you haven’t the right equipment since you were very close with pesticides. Nowadays we have machines that spray without you getting in touch with pesticides but you still have to have some equipment on. Technology has improve that rapidly that they have created a system which machines are connected with GPS and a satellite and you don’t even to be behind the wheel. A very common mistake as I mention is that people don’t use a safety equipment, according to 220.000 die every year because of pesticide poisoning. So people that use pesticides need to make sure that they have the right equipment that their farm doesn’t pollute the water and soil because it will lead to deaths of other people. From the other hand the use of fertilizes its easy, the most difficult part in my opinion is to put the right quantity of fertilizers, because if you don’t you might destroy you whole cultivation. To conclude with I want to say that both fertilizers and pesticides have positive and negative effects. They can help but also harm your farm but more importantly they can harm yourself. In my opinion pesticides are much worse than fertilizers because, if farmers know how to add and in which quantities the fertilizers then they will only have positive effects. Pesticides its only good temporally, yes pesticides kill unwanted pest but the negative effects of pesticides are much more than the positives, thus they must be used only by trained farmers.


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