What email address or phone number would you like to use to sign in to Docs.com?
If you already have an account that you use with Office or other Microsoft services, enter it here.
Or sign in with:
Signing in allows you to download and like content, and it provides the authors analytical data about your interactions with their content.
Embed code for: HowdofertilizersandpesticidesaffectplantsSeniorproject
Select a size
The benefits and controversy of pesticides and fertilizers.
Cherokee High School
Elena Van Zanten
Fertilizers and pesticides are chemical substances that improve the growth of plants. Pesticides help by keeping plants safe from unwanted pests that eat and destroy the plant, while fertilizers advance the growth of fruit, seeds and foliage for increased yield or amount of crops grown. The controversy that has risen around these substances was initiated with Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring which details the overuse of pesticides on American crops and the subsequent fallout of this postmodern approach. Following this there came accusations that residue from pesticides and fertilizers poisoned food consumers were buying. That’s when organic agriculture, agriculture with no chemicals at all, was offered as a better alternative. The main question of this debate is whether it is ethical to use chemicals to grow large amounts of food?
To fully understand pesticides and fertilizers one must first know how they work. Pesticides work by biologically or chemically damaging the metabolic, or other vital systems of a pest that ends up killing it (EPA.gov 2016). Not all pesticides are lethal, for example bug spray is a non-lethal pesticide (EPA.gov 2016). They have helped increased farm production by killing crop decimators like locusts. The pesticides whole duty is to protect crop from damage from plant, animal, or insect damage. Then Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, was published and the first debate about whether pesticides or any other chemicals should be used to grow agricultural food. There have been cases where chemical run off into community drinking water that has contaminated the water with high amounts of phosphorous (Allen 2006). Another case was gardener Genevieve Schimdt (2015) was buying flowers to attract more bees into her yard, not realizing that the nursery she bought them from used neonicotinoids. These pesticides were safe for workers to handle, but the bees who came in contact with the plants treated with neonicotinoids, take them back to their hive (Schmidt 2015). Overtime a build up neonicotinoids occurs (Schmidt 2015). This build up of this substance can cause hive collapses, and this would indirectly harm the plants because without the pollinators they cannot breed (Schmidt 2015). These are legitimate claims but, that doesn’t mean that all pesticides should be banned. Do not forget that pesticides do have the benefit of keeping unwanted plants and animals from killing crops. With these claims mentioned before there is also some myths about pesticides that need to be debunked. One of the myths include that there are residues from pesticides left over on the plant’s fruit that we consume. This is false because when fruits treated with pesticides were tested they found little to no amounts found on the food (Avery 2000). This other myth is absurd, that it debunks itself: many organic agriculturalists think that bugs naturally leave plants alone (Throckmorton 2006). These myths make pesticides seem like a deadly poison and that there is no need for them when really pesticides are used just to keep plants and animals from not decimating crops and increase yields. If there are really bad pesticides then they can be regulated. Schmidt, one of the sources above, economically regulated the neonicotinoid pesticides. She just put out a list of nurseries that do not use neonicotinoid pesticides on their plants (Schmidt 2015). If people boycott neonicotinoid nurseries, then the nursery will stop using them. If a pesticides is doing danger then the people can stop using and buying it, hurting it economically. This would cause the pesticide to be pulled off the shelves. The EPA is another agency that also regulates pesticides and farms. There is no need to ban pesticide, but the whole chemical ban does not only apply to pesticides, but also fertilizers, despite being very different.
The other chemicals known as fertilizers work differently. Fertilizers work by adding nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to a plant’s soil to increase more yields, or amount of crops or other plant products produced in a given amount of time. Each element has it own part to play. Nitrogen makes up a plant's chlorophyll, where photosynthesis takes place, and phosphorous is equally important in photosynthesis, so adding fertilizers help improve photosynthesis, which is the process that a plant uses to make glucose (Le capitaine and Carlson feeco.com). The potassium builds better quality fruit, and reduces a plant’s chances at contracting a disease (Le capitaine and Carlson feeco.com). This allows more yields and lowers cost for farmers when it come to maintaining and controlling plant diseases. They also allow farmers to get more profit from their crops and allow cheap food prices for consumers. They, like pesticides, have got the same claim that they run off into water systems. But other research has proven that fertilization of plants, in modern times, appears to be a necessity (Bailey 2016). The only natural fertilizers these plants receive, only come from rainfall, but rainfall is inconsistent, and one never knows when it’s going to rain. The lack of fertilization can cause less productivity from a plant so this makes them vital for plant growth and increased crop production. In order to produce bigger fruit, and more yields fertilizer is needed. Another use of fertilizer is to help a transplanted plant, adjust to a new soil environment (Wade 2001). Unlike pesticides, fertilizers have more benefits and are more safe. A strange benefit fertilizers give, is the increase of a food’s nutritional value. The most common benefit is efficiency. In a study at North Carolina state college found that adding nitrogen fertilizers to corn, increased protein values in a plant that doesn’t naturally produce protein (Throckmorton 2006). In a study by J.F. Davis, a researcher at Michigan State College, did an experiment that proved the efficiency of fertilizers. Using wheat, he found that the yield of wheat from an unfertilized wheat crop only yielded 5.7 bushels (unit to measure crop yields) an acre while, the fertilized crop produced 29.2 bushels of wheat per acre (Throckmorton 2006). The success of fertilizers has even convinced organic agriculturalists to admit that fertilizers work, and they have come with their own “organic” fertilizers. The fertilizers they use have no chemicals at all, and are usually made of compost from plants and animals because organic agriculture reject chemical use on plants (Savonen 2008). Chemicals are not the only difference between the two fertilizers. Organic fertilizer is very adjustable, especially for what the ingredients can be except there cannot be any chemicals. One advantage of organic fertilizer is that it doesn’t leave a crustiness on the ground like regular fertilizers do. But when it come to performance, all nutrients from chemical fertilizers are absorbed while, organic fertilizers only absorb some nutrients (Savonen 2008). So if fertilizers are really helpful, should they be banned?
Well, fertilizers and pesticides are not the only chemicals that go in your food. Other things include preservatives and most plants are GMO’s. Another thing organic agriculturalists won’t allow in their foods. Pesticides and fertilizers are frequently used for advancing agricultural technology, while organic agriculture is slow to technologically advance. Pesticides on commercial farms are now being genetically modified into plants. This is so plants have the ability to produce natural pesticides and no chemicals have to be applied (Bailey 2016). This has created the method of no-till farming (Bailey 2016). The only catch is the genetic modification and the use of benign herbicides (weed killers), so no tractor is need to plow out weeds (Bailey 2016). This reduces soil erosion, the environmental threat that caused the dust bowl. This decreases the amount of chemicals be used on plants and chemical runoff from pesticides and fertilizers (Bailey 2016). New technology is leading the push for agriculture to be more environmentally friendly but with the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
The organic farmers have one point that fertilizers and pesticides can be dangerous,and the only way to keep the population safe is there must be some regulations on these products. It is very uncomfortable to know that there are chemicals being used on our food, but they are a necessary evil. Another example of a plant’s need for pesticides and fertilizers is the attempt to grow ornamental plants (plants grown as decorations) organically. The only issue is ornamental plants are very high maintenanced and require fertilizers. The main issues they had was the insect infestations and plant diseases so that has put a hold on organically growing ornamental plants (Burnett and Stack 2009). All in all fertilizers and pesticides are needed in order to keep plants alive and increases yields. There is middle ground on the fertilizer-pesticide debate. There doesn’t need to be a total ban or total anarchy in the agriculture world. In the future, who knows maybe farmers won’t need fertilizers or pesticides. But right now, they do.
The following material was found on the Gale database
Avery, A. (2000) Pesticides Are Safe San Diego: Greenhaven press
Alex Avery made his point that pesticides are safe and that the residue that results from them are little to non-existent. He also pointed out that the EPA is imposing more regulations that are forcing certain pesticides off the market and is costing crop farmers and any other people who use pesticides more money and loss of plants. He also explained why pesticides are important because they control weeds and keep any unwanted animals from destroying the crops. Then addressed the counter-argument that pesticide free farms cannot produce as much as regular farms can.
Bailey, R, ( Aug. 23, 2016) Organic Agriculture Cannot Feed the World Detroit: Greenhaven Press
Ronald Bailey made his point on fertilizers and how organic farming cannot sustain the world. He stated that if the world was to move to total organic agriculture, more people would die and food prices will rise. He also stated that plants need to be fertilized, especially any fertilizer that had nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fertilization is actually a plant necessity because it can’t get natural fertilizers like rain. He used a study from Switzerland that stated how non-superior organic farming is to regular farming.
Throckmorton, R.I. (2006) Commercial Fertilizers and Farms Are Far Superior to Organic Farms Detroit: Greenhaven Press
Throckmorton believed that commercial farms and fertilizers are good because they increase plant yield, increase nutritional value, and repel bugs. He called organic farmers “whacks”. Then criticized them for being scientifically wrong and provided evidence that organic farming cannot support a country let alone the world. He also proved that the people for organic farming are recreational gardeners and know nothing about large scale farming. When soil scientists disproved organic farming, organic farmers called soil scientists wrong. The he stated one of their beliefs that bugs naturally avoid plants that one sees the stupidity of organic farmers. New technologies like till-free farming, that uses fertilizers reduce soil erosion while organic farming doesn’t.
Allen, W (2010) Industrial agriculture must be carefully regulated in the future Detroit: Greenhaven press
Will Allen was the only author against the use of pesticides in farming. He said it is contributing to the U.S.’s carbon footprint and is releasing tons of carbon into the air. He looked up studies and found that pesticides and fertilizers runoff into waterways like creeks and rivers which pollutes our drinking water. This is also dangerous to people because a study done showed over fifteen million people in twenty communities are drinking contaminated water with high amounts of phosphate. Allen is for more regulations on pesticides and would like American farming to become more organic.
The rest is from the general web and due to this there will be limited information like author’s name for example.
http://www.epa.nsw.gov/www.epa.nsw.gov (June 10, 2016) New South Wales: EPA
The whole article is about how pesticides work. They work by physically, chemically, or biologically, messing with vital body system like metabolism and behavioral functions of a pest. There are types of pesticides, the ones mentioned above are lethal pesticides. There are pesticides known as non-lethal pesticides like bug repellants. The EPA is the author of this article.
Carlson, C and Le Capitaine, S NPK fertilizer: What Is It and How does It Work?
Carlson and Le Capitaine explained how fertilizer works and what makes it up. Fertilizers have three specific element that makes up plant fertilizers which were: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Then they went over each element’s function and how fertilizer helps the plant. Phosphorus improves photosynthesis, Nitrogen aids photosynthesis and makes up a plant’s chlorophyll, and Potassium builds better quality fruit and reduces diseases.
Schmidt, G. (February 3, 2015) Buying Bee-friendly: Neonicotinoid-free Nurseries, Growers and Seed Sources
Schmidt wrote about the pesticides known as neonicotinoids and how they harm bees, and what nurseries, and seed sellers do not use neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are used in nurseries because they are safer for employees to use, less residue when it goes to the market, and it treats the plant from the inside unlike other pesticides. The only problem is when the bees come to pollinate. The pollen of a plant treated with neonicotinoids still contained the pesticide even after the treatment. When bees come they unknowingly carry the pollen back to the hive where the neonicotinoid will build up in concentrate and this could lead to total collapse disorder in honey bees or kill other bees. Schmidt is an avid gardener and stated the plants treated with neonicotinoids were plants that gardeners like Schmidt, buy these to attract pollinators! At the end of the article, Schmidt lists nurseries and growers that do not use neonicotinoids.
Savonen, C, (April 30, 2008) Here’s the scoop on chemical and organic fertilizers Oregon State University gardening department
Savonen compared and contrasted chemical fertilizers and organic fertilizers. Chemical Fertilizers use nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. There is also ammonium sulfate or phosphate. While organic fertilizers use compost and a mixture of plant and animal material. Savonen, went over the advantages and disadvantages of both. An advantage organic fertilizer doesn’t leave a crustiness that the regular fertilizer does. But how organic fertilizer doesn’t release its nutrients fast and all nutrients are not absorbed by the soil while chemical fertilizers do. Savonen did though express a bias for organic fertilizers because most of the article was about how to make fertilizers better and focuses more on them.
Wade, G, L (2001) Care of Ornamental Plants in the Landscape
http://www.extension.uga.edu/www.extension.UGA.edu agriculture department.
Wade’s articles are about ornamental plant care. He went over fertilizers and matched the plants with the perfect fertilizer. He made the point that once a plant is bought and transplanted, fertilization may be needed to help the plant adjust to it’s new environment. He also told how fertilizers are a necessity when it comes to ornamental plant care and maintenance. Roses for example have to be fertilized in order to be healthier and produce bigger flowers.
Burnett, S and Stack, B, L (2009) The Future of Organic Ornamental Plants Orono: American society of horticultural science
The popularity of organically grown vegetables has now reached out to ornamental plants. These plants are like roses or violets, plants just there to look good. Burnett and Stack revealed a new demand for these plants to be grown organically and not with pesticides or fertilizers. The issue with this, is they are running into challenges such as insect infestation and plant diseases. Another problem was with fertility and most growers stopped using organic tactics. Burnett and Stack said there is a future for organically grown ornamental plants but there seems to be little hope for this.
The Benefits and Controversies of Pesticides and Fertilizers 1es like bug repellants. The EPA is the author of this article.
The popularity of organically grown vegetables has now reached out to ornamental plants. These plants are like roses or violets, plants just th