Any type of fertilizer can harm the environment if not properly managed. Tips for proper fertilizer use include: test the soil regularly, only use the necessary amount instructed, apply at the proper time, be cautious around slopes, apply fertilizers to only healthy plants, store your materials properly, compost any leftover plant debris, break up fertilizer applications on sandy soils, and follow with light irrigation. Nitrogen, phosphorous, copper, and zinc can all harm the environment.
I would argue that petroleum derived nitrogen fertilizers are worst for the environment. Much of the reason for this is that they are drastically over used. Much of these fertilizers flow into water ways with runoff. This increased nitrogen creates algae blooms which absorb oxygen and kill fish. So much nitrogen is used that it is found in precipitation. Nitrogen has also been shown to cause acidification of large areas of the ocean. These areas are known as, “dead zones” and they coincide with major river deltas where much of the nitrogen is outflowing. These fertilizers also prevent nitrogen producing bacteria from growing in the soil. Essentially, soil play by the same, “if you give a man a fish…” cliche.
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