» Do Commercial Fertilizers Harm Soil Microbes or Make Nutrients Unavailable to Plants?

Do Commercial Fertilizers Harm Soil Microbes or Make Nutrients Unavailable to Plants?

Q. It is my understanding the microbes found in organic compost materials is what packages the nutrients for the plants. Sort of like the good bacteria that your body needs to maintian the right balance in the blood stream. I also understand that synthetically produced fertilizers will kill these microbes. This is the difference between a naturally packaged fertilizer and a synthetically produced one. How can man’s synthesis be better for the plants than the Earth’s Natural processes? When compared on other subjects, man’s synthetics cannot always produce safe results.

A. What you’re describing, I would suggest, includes some hyperbole being spread by organic promoters.

Reality is somewhat different. Nature provided us with large rock deposits containing one or more of the 13 essential plant nutrients, in many places around the earth. In the past 100 or so years, man has discovered these deposits, learned how to use them properly, and how to mine them. In the mining process, other elements are removed, including heavy metals, and sometimes the essential minerals are concentrated. It is important to understand that the concentration process applied to natural minerals from rocks does not make the material “synthetically” produced, nor does it make it unsafe or harmful to microbes, plants, or humans.

The above described process is what has allowed our farmers to feed 250 million of us and allow us to do other things with our time (1 feeds 100), rather than slaving on the farm as our grandfathers did, using manure (organics) as our only fertilizer source (1 fed 4 or 5).

Please remember that 90-95% of our food is produced using modern equipment and these same natural mineral nutrients from commercially produced fertilizers.

It is important to distinguish between potential problems associated with the misuse and/or over-application of pesticides and herbicides, and the valuable, safe, and highly productive use of natural mineral nutrients, usually referred to as commercial fertilizers.