Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Without this independent-minded element, disinclined to associate with other gases, the machinery of photosynthesis cannot function—no protein can form, and no plant can grow. Corn, wheat, and rice, the fast-growing crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen hungry of all plants. They demand more, in fact, than nature alone can provide.
Enter modern chemistry. Giant factories capture inert nitrogen gas from the vast stores in our atmosphere and force it into a chemical union with the hydrogen in natural gas, creating the reactive compounds that plants crave. That nitrogen fertilizer—more than a hundred million tons applied worldwide every year—fuels bountiful harvests. Without it, human civilization in its current form could not exist. Our planet’s soil simply could not grow enough food to provide all seven billion of us our accustomed diet. In fact, almost half of the nitrogen found in our bodies’ muscle and organ tissue started out in a fertilizer factory.
Yet this modern miracle exacts a price. Runaway nitrogen is suffocating wildlife in lakes and estuaries, contaminating groundwater, and even warming the globe’s climate. As a hungry world looks ahead to billions more mouths needing nitrogen-rich protein, how much clean water and air will survive our demand for fertile fields?"
This is what our National Geographic friends are reading. What do you think? The lakes in Ohio have been in the news as the new fertilizer standards are discussed and adapted. It is a slow process to change our ways.
The SAP test I saw from Holland at Farm to Plate confirmed to me what I've been seeing and that is we generally over nitrate crops and don't feed enough of the other 16 required elements for growing plants.
I have made a concerted effort to balance my soil fertility. I have grown 200 bushel corn on 120 units of nitrogen. That is excellent but my friends have done it with 80 units. My cover crop friends have been able to accomplish that with no purchased nitrogen.
Ammonia nitrate is now blamed for the explosion in West, Texas. What ignited it? We need ammonia nitrate to grow food but accidents and algae will keep it high priced and remotely available.
Can we support this population without a 'fertilized world?"