Chemical Fertilizers: Uses and Drawbacks

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If you’re on the lookout for methods to increase your crop yield and quality, you cannot ignore the usage of fertilizers. Fertilizers provide plants with the necessary nutrients which they need for healthy growth. One of the most cost-effective ways to boost crop production is by proper usage of chemical fertilizers. You have heard various terms such as chemical fertilizer, organic fertilizers, inorganic fertilizer and synthetic fertilizer. Here, we will discuss chemical fertilizer in detail, which you as a farmer must be informed.

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What are Chemical Fertilizers?

Chemical fertilizers are synthetic compound substances. They have  been created to increase crop yield. Some chemical fertilizers are based on nitrogen, while others are based on phosphorus and  potassium.

Complex or blended chemical fertilizers usually contain a mix of ammonium phosphate, nitro phosphate, potassium, and other nutrients.

It is essential to note that the correct chemical fertilizer depends on the climate and the type of crop you are growing.

Chemical fertilizers or synthetic fertilizers allow farmers to maximize their crop yield — the more the plant grows, the better. The soil nutrients, consumed by the previous harvest, is replenished by the chemical fertilizers. As long as you know how to use chemical fertilizers, they can even make otherwise poor quality land produce significant yields.

How Can Different Fertilizer Brands Vary?

Now that you are aware of the importance of plant fertilizer, the obvious next step is to choose the right amount and right type of fertilizer for your unique requirements. You might get a bit confused about the many different brands operating in the fertilizer market. It is usually relatively easy to narrow down the selection, depending on your specific needs.

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Firstly, you need to determine how you intend to use your fertilizer. A fertilizer that is high in filler contains less active chemical fertilizer than industrial blends. Consequently, they are a perfect option for anyone looking to keep their lawn looking well maintained. The\ consumer blends typically contain low, slow-release nutrients that allows continued growth over some time. Thus the importance of fertilizer depends largely on context. Make sure you choose a brand and type that aligns with your specific goals, or you might not see ideal results.

While organic fertilizers have their place and time, chemical fertilizer is faster, more efficient, and much more affordable than the organic alternative. In comparison, a homeowner fertilizer blend is not suitable for a larger operation where stability and crop yield are important. Large scale cultivation area require the commercial chemical fertilizers. Moreover, the specific chemical fertilizers are for specific climates and crops.

Advantages of Using Chemical Fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers increase plant production and maximize crop yield. They can drastically increase the yield and turn an otherwise poor soil into a productive land. The importance of fertilizer scales with the size of your growing area.

Chemical fertilizers are designed to support particular plants. You can immediately recognize the improvements. T he plants absorb the nutrients at a faster pace and the results are visible very quickly.

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Moreover, they provide exactly what plants require for a healthy growth with minimal fillers. Strict regulations govern the chemical fertilizers.  Best of all, they are fertilizers are very cost-effective.

It is important that there is enough cultivation of crops annually as the global population marches ahead. Consequently, we can provide clothing, food and other agricultural products to people globally. Crops such as wheat, cotton and corn take in nutrients from the soil where they are grown. The various crops deplete soil nutrients in different rates and ways. Some crop growth leads to depletion of soil nutrients after just a few seasons. Chemical fertilizers play an important role in providing crops with the nutrients they need to grow and be harvested for nutritious food.


A class of fertilizers called micronutrient fertilizers have bee designed to enrich crops with vital nutrients which help support human health. For example, Zinc is a micronutrients that is important to human nutrition, especially children. Research has shown that much of the world’s grain crops are grown in soil without adequate zinc. Hence,  offering micronutrient fertilizers to grain crops enriches the grain with an important nutrient.

Disadvantages of Chemical Fertilizers

Chemical fertilizers are a cost-effective and brilliant way to produce high yields, when used correctly. However, overuse of chemical fertilizers can degrade the soil.  It is crucial to take the proper precautions and steps to restore the soil’s natural balance and structure. Overuse of chemical fertilizers can disrupt the acidity of the soil.

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So, you must treat the use of chemical fertilizers as a valuable, important tool. It is critical to remember that proper use requires expert application and moderation. 

Environmental Impact from Chemical Fertilizers

One of the major problems with chemical fertilizers is that they contaminate the groundwater and other water sources as they seep through the soil.

NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium) in small quantities is non-toxic, but a lot can kill the balance of nature in various ways. Dealing with nitrogen is bit tricky. One way to deal with it is by doing what it is supposed to do (i.e., help plants grow). The problem is it creates refereed by experts as a dead zone. When nitrogen is in the water, it encourages plankton and other aquatic plants to grow excessively.

When plankton and aquatic plants die, the process of decomposition eats up oxygen that fish and other marine animals need to survive. As a result, the water nearest to the land where agricultural runoff is also heavy does not have fish and crustaceans. Consequently, it upsets the ecosystem of the area as well as the local fishing industry.

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It will not help much if you stop using chemical fertilizer in the worst-hit areas. Nitrogen in the water can remain for many years, so it will continue to affect the environment even without making more addition. Nitrogen also contributes to the greenhouse effect. It is also known as the other greenhouse gas.  Nitrogen is equally bad as carbon dioxide in global warming. The main sources of nitrogen in the atmosphere in the form of nitrous oxide are cars and power plants. However, using more nitrogen fertilizers than crop plants can absorb plays a significant role.

Chemical Fertilizers and Soil Acidity

Additionally, chemical fertilizers can make the topsoil acidic, as nitrogen lowers the soil’s pH level. The ideal pH level for maximum plant growth and crop yield lies between 5.5 and 8. If the soil is too acidic with a pH lower than 5.5, the crop yield will decrease. The environmental impact of using fertilizers made from chemicals are bad. It will take many years to address. However, the immediate concern with chemical fertilizers is the effect on human health.

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Ammonium nitrate is a good source of nitrogen and ammonium for plants. It is an essential ingredient in producing high-quality, effective fertilizers. You can make ammonium nitrate from anhydrous ammonia, a gas that can become explosive when mixed with air.

Although this fertilizer is applied safely every day, it also means that it is a safety hazard if it falls into the wrong hands. Hence, you should take great care for the safe usage and storage of anhydrous ammonia. They have implemented safety measures to help prevent or mitigate an incident.

Chemical Fertilizers on Human Health Issues

The food crops produced using chemical fertilizers may not be as nutritious as they should be. These fertilizers focus on fast growth instead of health in plants. Subsequently, the crops have less nutritional value. Plants will grow faster with little more than NPK, but they will miss out or develop less essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, and calcium. Consequently, this has a small yet cumulative effect on the health of people consuming them.

In the worst-case scenario, these fertilizers increase the risks of the onset of cancer in adults and children. It adversely affects fetal brain development. Research studies by the University of Wisconsin show that typical nitrate concentrations and a pesticide in the groundwater have negative effects. Subsequently, it affects the nervous, endocrine, and immune system of young children and developing fetuses. A study in 1973 found links between high levels of sodium nitrate in groundwater and gastric cancer and testicular cancer.

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However, a relatively recent study shows that chemical fertilizers may play a significant role in Blue Baby syndrome. Doctors and researchers believe the condition results from feeding the infants with baby formula using well water contaminated with nitrates. The baby turns blue and may eventually lead to a coma or death.

Choose Organic Fertilizers

Whether you have a small garden of flowers and plants or a large farm with thousands of acres of crops, there is a wide range of fertilizers. These fertilizers have been developed to help different crops grow in different soil and weather conditions. Chemical ingredients help create fertilizers that promote plant growth and are cost-effective. Strict regulations govern commercial and consumer fertilizers.

Consequently, they are safe for the people who use them, live nearby, and the surrounding environment. In a nutshell, use chemical fertilizers. Take the time to consult with professionals to learn more about the importance of fertilizer. Discuss how to choose the right kind for your needs, and work from there. Chemical fertilizers are a great option for anyone looking to boost crop yield. However, the catch is to use them responsibly.

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