Lawn and garden fertilizers are often used to make plants grow quicker and lusher. However, the over use and incorrect uses of fertilizers can pose serious negative environmental impacts. First let's focus on how fertilizers work- three of the major chemical component of fertilizers are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K). These essential nutrients are required for plants to grow, absorb energy from the sun, and undergo metabolic activities. All three of these chemicals N, P, and K are present in the soil via the decomposition cycle of dead plants and animals. However, many homeowners often unknowing deprive their lawns and plans from these essential nutrients by packing up all the "yard waste" and sending it off to the dump. This is one important reason in which composting is important to overall soil health- read more about Composting in my Composting 101 Post.
Fertilizers can be effective in producing larger, more vibrant plants, and in the case of fruits and produce- better crops. This may sound great for the plant, but the major negative impact occurs when this nitrogen ends up somewhere other than just your plants and garden.
As it rains, water can wash away the fertilizer from the source in which it was originally intended. Via the water cycle, the nitrogen runoff can be carried into the lakes, stream, creeks, and rivers or enter into the groundwater. Once the fertilizer enters the water it can offsets the natural balance of the aquatic ecosystem, decreased the dissolved oxygen content (which is critical to most aquatic mircoinvertebrates, macroinvertebrates, and fish) lead to over growth of aquatic plants, and can lead to algae blooms and eutrophication. This in turn essentially chokes the aquatic animal life and can lead to degradation of the aquatic population. As the aquatic life dies this can cause not only an unpleasant sight, but also heavy odors, and decreased water quality.
In order to prevent excess fertilization from entering into our water sources homeowners need to be aware of these issues and how to prevent them. First, make sure that if you must use fertilize, use only what is needed and don't fertilize in excess. If you live in an area with softer soil use slow release fertilizer. However, if you live in an area that contains hard soils or clay (as is often prevalent in East TN) you should opt to use fast release fertilizer (if absolutely necessary) to avoid having the fertilizer hit the water sources. In addition, before you fertilize take a few seconds to check the weather forecast and make sure there is no rain in the near future as a rainfall will increase the chances of it getting into the water. Also, be sure never to apply fertilizer near a water source or wash, dump, or rinse fertilizer down the drains, into the street, or into a sewer drain.
Water is essential to our survival and is also a non-renewable water source so we need to be cautious and proactive about protecting this invaluable natural resource.
Please read our eco-minded blog posts for more information pertaining to "all things green":
How to Exorcize the Vampire and Monsters in your Life- the "dangers" of phantom energy sources
Instantly search all properties for sale in the Knoxville TN and surrounding areas now!
Visit Christine McInerney and Jennifer Halinkowski with Keller Williams Realty on-line at:
www.HomesForSaleKnoxville.com and www.KnoxvilleReal-Estate.com
Office: (865) 694-5904
Christine (865) 237-5289 and Jennifer (865) 621-3658
Mail to: McIn-Kowski@HomesForSaleKnoxville.com