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Effects of long term fertilizer use

Agribusiness managementAgriculture

Effects of long term fertilizer use

Why does the soil need to be fertilized?

For the first time, the usage of fertilizers was encouraged during the initial years of World War l. This gave agriculture a new scope along with automation and intensive cultivation. Due to continuous and intensive usage of the land, numerous forms of soil become fragile, for instance, silty soil formed on Aeolian loess is one third i.e., 33% of the soil cover of France. Silty soils are most commonly used in cultivating various varieties of cereals because silty soil holds a great advantage of being chemically and physically fertile. However, in the occurrence of overuse of the soil, there arises the chance of the soil undergoing a process known as acidification, due to which, crust formation on the surface increases leading to surface erosion.
To meet the consumer’s growing need for food, agricultural land must accomplish the harvest of the optimum quality as well as maximum efficiency. For the agricultural harvest to be of a prime quality, the nutrition factor of the plant is extremely important. It has been noted that the type and quantity of various minerals and elements for plant present in the soil affect the quality of the harvest. Permanent agricultural lands lack the desired quantity of nutrients, hence inefficient. Thus, farmers resort to fertilize the soil, eliminate pests and various pathogens, irrigate and utilize various agricultural processes to make the land/soil fertile and suitable for agriculture, in turn improving the quality of the harvest.

Do fertilisers only exert positive effects?

Among all the agricultural activities, fertilization is given the top priority. Recent investigations, however, indicated that the negative effects of fertilizers outweigh its positive effects. The continuous application of fertilizer affects various physical properties of soil, either directly or indirectly. They tend to alter soil aggregate stability, water retention capacity, infiltration rate, porosity, hydraulic conductivity and bulk density. Also, the chemical composition of the soil is altered which in turn affects the deployment of clay particles.

Are organic manures a better alternative to fertilizers?

Bringing back the traditional way of applying nutrients to the soil through organic manures benefits the soil in many ways although they have their share of limitations. Organic manures help the soil maintain its physical and chemical properties more safely and efficiently. They improve soil aggregation, enhance water holding capacity and improve water infiltration rate. Many studies have found that the use of organic manure promotes better growth and population of microorganisms that play a vital role in nutrient cycling processes. Manured soils are rich in phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium in topsoils and nitrate, calcium and magnesium in sub-soils. Nevertheless, it cannot be concluded that organic manures are better alternatives to the fertilizers since their long term usage also results in an excessive accumulation of nutrients, particularly potassium and nitrogen, and also leads to poor quality of water by increasing its chemical oxygen demand. It is advisable to make judicious use of these crop chemicals and promote sustainable agriculture to protect the planet in all applicable ways.

Online course on agribusiness in James Lind Institute

To learn more about the long term effects of fertilizer use in agriculture, enroll yourself in an online training programme on agribusiness being launched at James Lind Institute. This course acquaints you with various aspects of agriculture, the role of fertilizers in agriculture and their overall effects on the environment. James Lind Institute is a pioneer in the field of online training courses in various fields such as clinical development, public health and tropical medicine, pharmaceutical medicine, medical communication and journalism and social and environmental sciences. The globally accredited and industry-specific training fine-tunes your skills to match the needs of the ever-growing market. James Lind Institute will soon be launching online training programs on agribusiness. For more details, please visit

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