Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

lets talk agriculture.

fertilizer.

N-K-P

thats nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus

phosphorus is a rock. that means it comes outta the ground. that means it takes forever to replenish. basically a non renewable resource, like oil.

phosphorus prices have already been spiking in the last few years, and it is estimated that around 2020-2030 (hmm sound familiar?) we are going to just run out.

no more fertilizer.

the majority of modern agriculture relies so heavily on fertilizer that without it, well, it wouldn't just be tokyo facing a food crisis... we are talking the end of modern agriculture as we know it.

everyone talks about peak oil. oil is not crucial. not the way phosphorus is. there are new methods for making power being worked on every day. we still don't have any viable methods for replenishing the phosphorus, definitely not replenishing it to make up for the rate we use is.

check it out. google it. anyone have any ideas? i do biology. any chemists in the house?

Views: 57

Comment by Jane A.W. on March 16, 2010 at 2:19am
heh heh... what a load of s*** (ar ar) maybe switching away from chemical fertilizers is in order?
Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 16, 2010 at 3:34am
I am thinking what Jane is. We've had a fairly successful garden in the last year using no fertilizer but our pig, goat and chicken manures... The chickens are free range with a feed supplement, the goats eat local hay and forage for themselves. The pigs and chicken eat all our food waste. I think the more we "close the loop" on our organic wastes the less chemical fertilizer we will need.
Comment by The Garden Earth Project on March 16, 2010 at 4:36am
Last time I checked, phosphorus is being replenished consistently by all the small animals that live in our fields and till our soil. These critters are not pests - they are an essential part of our eco-system. They keep the soil aerated and fertilized!

I have been gardening for over 50 years, and like Jane and Avala, have never seen the need to use chemical inputs of any kind.
Comment by Starling on March 16, 2010 at 7:55am
Yeah one solution to peak phosphorus is to stop throwing it away - as it's highly soluble, it goes into bodies of water from flush toilets and farm slurry - composting that instead & returning it to the land retains the phosphorus. Have also heard that low sulphur is becoming an issue in developed-world farming now we have less sulphur dioxide pollution! That deposition was feeding our crops ... tracking and engineering nutrient cycles needs to be a key part of planetary management.
Comment by Bongumusa on March 16, 2010 at 12:03pm
Fertilizer, I like that.
Comment by Claire Moylan on March 16, 2010 at 1:08pm
I'm with everyone else. I think chemical fertilizers are part of the problem, not the solution. Cow, pig, rabbit, and chicken manure work great. Here's another possibility though: weed juice. There's a family called the Dervaes who urban farm in California, and they use nettles soaked in water to create a fertilizer. They say it works great!
Comment by Amos Meeks on March 16, 2010 at 1:10pm
What I wonder is how plants got enough phosphorous before we started meddling in everything. Was there just enough in the ground? Are there plants that fix phosphorous in the ground like nitrogen fixing plants do with nitrogen? Did enough come from randomly scattered manure?
Comment by Starling on March 16, 2010 at 4:53pm
Claire - weed juices and other organic liquid fertilizers like worm juice are good as fertilizers but digging manure and compost into the soil has other benefits too - improving soil structure and water retention.

Amos - good question! Thinking about that one. I think glaciation has something to do with mineral nutrient presence in soil. Will try to find out more.
Comment by glim on March 16, 2010 at 5:54pm
thank you all for your inputs and also the private mails i received about this topic!

basically it comes from manure and decaying bodies as well as microminerals in the soil, as everyone has said. one of the issues with just using the manure only method is that there is a higher chance of food born pathogens.

the other issue is bigger. we maintain crops at artificial levels because our population levels are somewhat artificially high. there are just too many people.
Comment by Nick Heyming on March 16, 2010 at 6:30pm
Making weed juices from dynamic acc**ulators is the way to go. Or you can just compost them, or chop and drop them for mulch. Just another reason why industrial ag is on the way out.

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