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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 6:32 pm 
I have seen posts on another web site with so called experts declaring that synthetic chemical fertilizers cause no harm to soil organisms. That it causes no harm to earthworms, which do not eat organic matter but the microbes on that organic matter. And that the biggest problems on golf courses is the great worm populations over running these courses. That your grass plants don't know the difference between organic fertilizers and synthetic chemical fertilizers.... Yada, Yada, Yada!

There is so much bad information floating around, it's no wonder so many people are misinformed or confused.

For many years people in the horticultural and agricultural industries have known that plants fertilized organically required less fertilizer than plants fertilized with synthetic fertilizer. It was long believed that synthetic fertilizers did not encourage the growth of microorganisms which live in the soil and transform nutrients into forms that can be absorbed by plant roots. Recent studies have shown that the application of a synthetic fertilizer actually kills a significant percentage of beneficial microorganisms. These tiny creatures are responsible for more than just breaking down the organic matter (derived from such things as grass clippings, pulled weeds, compost and organic fertilizer) into usable forms. Some convert nitrogen from the air into a plant usable form. Others are disease organisms which keep cutworms, chinch bugs and grubs, to name a few, in check.
It can take six weeks for the soil organisms to recover from one application of synthetic fertilizer. Most lawn fertilizer manufacturers recommend 3 or 4 applications per year. This effectively means that the lawn is unable to break down organic material at a natural rate for 24 weeks of the growing season (about 28 weeks long for grass). Long term use of synthetic fertilizers can cause a lawn or garden to become a wasteland on the microscopic level where only the most tolerant of microorganisms can survive.
Soil deprived of its microorganisms undergoes a decline in soil structure. Air and water retention and the ability to retain nutrients declines. Plants stressed by soil conditions are much more susceptible to damage from insects and diseases. Healthy, organically balanced soil encourages a plants natural immune system, while limiting the population of disease organisms and insects, to create the best conditions for growth.

http://www.ottawahort.org/organic.htm

There is some incorrect thinking that earthworms only eat the bacteria on organic matter. That just isn't true. They also eat grass cuttings, organic matter and mineral soil.

Worm Castings on Golf Courses ? The Cause

Why is earthworm casting occurring? Earthworm populations can reach several million under golf-course fairways, with millions more in the roughs going unnoticed due to higher mowing heights. Unfortunately for superintendents, the basic cultural practices that produce excellent fairway surfaces also create optimal living conditions for earthworms. Earthworms feed on fairway clippings returned after mowing and on organic matter in the soil. They love the consistent, moist, fertile conditions that typically are present in fairway turf. In other words, earthworm casting is not an indication of a superintendent's inability to grow healthy turf. In fact, the opposite is true.

Populations can reach damaging levels on golf courses for several reasons:

Fairways often are planted on fine-textured soils that receive regular irrigation and nitrogen-fertilizer applications, which provide optimal growing conditions and a continuous food supply for earthworms. *

Earthworm activity is greatest when the soil moisture is near field capacity, which just happens to be the ideal moisture level for healthy turfgrass.

The turfgrass canopy also helps provide favorable temperatures by insulating the soil from extreme weather conditions.

Earthworms cast on the surface for two primary reasons. First, after they ingest organic matter, decaying leaf tissue and mineral soil, they must excrete the leftover material. Second, earthworms live in relatively permanent burrows. When soil fills the burrows (often after heavy rains), earthworms ingest the soil and move it up to the surface to perform "house cleaning." Researchers working with earthworms have estimated that they may bring 20 to 25 tons of soil per acre to the surface each year.
"Who" is responsible for the casting problem? More than 200 species of earthworms with varying behaviors and habitat preferences exist in North America. On Northwest golf courses, the primary species include Lumbricus terrestris, Aporrectodea calignosa and A. longa. Most species do not actually deposit casts on the surface. Many excrete material within the soil profile or not at all. Based on field observations, L. terrestris, familiarly known as the night crawler (see photo, page Golf 1), is the earthworm species causing severe casting damage on golf courses throughout the Pacific Northwest and in many other locations across the United States.

Night crawlers typically build permanent vertical burrows that vary in diameter from about 0.125 to 0.5 inch. In certain situations, these can extend up to 12 feet deep in the soil. However, due to regular irrigation and constant food supplies (clippings and other organic matter) on fairways, night crawlers tend to remain closer to the surface, migrating up and down in the soil with fluctuations in moisture content, soil temperature and atmospheric pressure. Peak earthworm activity and casting occurs during the cooler, wetter weather in the spring and late fall through early winter. Earthworms are generally intolerant of drought and frost conditions; they retreat to the bottom of their burrows during extremes in temperature and soil moisture, returning to the surface when conditions improve.

Earthworms feed on organic matter in the soil and decaying clippings returned to fairways after mowing, which provide a practically unlimited food supply. In turf, they often pull leaf clippings down into the mouth of the burrow, where the tissue softens for later consumption. The amount of food in the soil and on the surface can influence earthworm populations. One researcher found that nightcrawlers do not burrow deep into the soil profile if adequate food is available near the surface. Other investigators have reported that rates of casting were reduced when clippings were removed. Thus, it is possible that collecting clippings could reduce earthworm populations.

http://www.wormdigest.org/index.php?opt ... 2&Itemid=2

Your thoughts?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:20 pm 
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My thoughts are that the 'other forum' is the Garden Web Lawn Care forum. Dan (the owner/Admin of this site) isn't a nazi so you can mention that forum here even though TGF can't be mentioned there. My other thought is that you are responding here to my post there knowing I would see it. Why don't you post there anymore?

My 3rd thought is that the cut and pastes you did from various sites don't actually address the issue of synthetic ferts killing bacteria. Your link claims it happens, but doesn't provide any reason for a skeptical person to take the claim at face value.

Claims without evidence are quite common on the net and I can find lots of claims that man never set foot on the moon.

Worms eat bacteria. They ingest lots of stuff from organic matter to soil. They do so to make tunnels and eat soil organisms. This is my understanding. If it is incorrect please correct me with credible sources of information.

My question still stands (as written on Garden Web's Lawn Care forum).

If synthetic ferts kill bacteria then why are synthetically ferted golf courses having trouble with large populations of bacteria munching worms?

One of the things I have wondered about for a long time when it is claimed something kills bacteria is WHAT bacteria are killed?

There are scads of bacteria all over the place. They are ubiquitous. They are in the soil, on my skin, in my toilet, on the walls of my home etc. They are everywhere.

Anything done to anything has the potential to kill the present bacteria by virtue of making things more suitable for other bacteria. I really don't know how anyone could ever kill bacteria on a wholesale level. Even a nuclear war wouldn't result in the absence of bacteria at ground zero, it would just make the bacteria larger and greener :D

The most common bacteria found in soil (according to Dr. Ingham, one of the members of your organic lawn care board) are the bacillus genus. They are good guys. Go ahead and ask her whether synthetics applied an normal lawn rates kills them.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 9:35 pm 
There is plenty of evidence as to the effects of synthetic chemical fertilizers on soil organisms. You can believe what you want, the truth is out there.

You make the false assumption that worms only eat soil organisms. Like I posted, they also eat grass clippings, an abundance of which can be found at any golf course, as well as organic matter and soil minerals. The reason why the earthworms are abundant has nothing to do with soil organisms. Like I already posted, it's because of grass cuttings and constant watering. Pretty simple.

Like I said, I've already posted the answers. I'm not going to post again. If you continue to make the wrong assumptions, you will continue to get the wrong answers.

You can be as skeptical as you like. I'm not going to bother to answer rather obvious questions.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 10:15 pm 
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Location: zone 5 SE Wisconsin
MrOrganic wrote:
There is plenty of evidence as to the effects of synthetic chemical fertilizers on soil organisms. You can believe what you want, the truth is out there.


So why not post some links to 'truth' that doesn't come from a source looking to make money selling something? I could well be flat out, 100% wrong.

But, without any kind of proof why should anyone believe what you are saying? You are probably correct. I am sure with 2 minutes of your time you can provide several non commercial links demonstrating rather than simply claiming the damage synthetic ferts do to bacteria, fungi and worms. Please do try to explain why synthetic treated lawns and golf courses have mushrooms and worms gallore.

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You make the false assumption that worms only eat soil organisms.


It may be a false assumption, but it is what the good folks on the vermiculture forum tell me. I figure those who actually raise worms would know what worms do. Do you have evidence, other than your word, otherwise?

Quote:
Like I posted, they also eat grass clippings, an abundance of which can be found at any golf course, as well as organic matter and soil minerals. The reason why the earthworms are abundant has nothing to do with soil organisms. Like I already posted, it's because of grass cuttings and constant watering. Pretty simple.


Yes, it is pretty simple to state. Now what I would like for you to do is show this willing to believe skeptic that what you have claimed is substantiated with more than opinion. Why not ask Dr. Ingham since she is on your message board for some info based upon SFI testing? My understanding is worms ingest lots of things. Burrowing worms do so to make tunnels and derive nutrition. Composting worms do so to get nutrition. The nutrition comes from soil organisms as I have been led to believe. I could be wrong, but I really need more than an 'I say so' from a guy who posts on the vermiculture board as an expert, but doesn't raise worms.

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Like I said, I've already posted the answers. I'm not going to post again. If you continue to make the wrong assumptions, you will continue to get the wrong answers.


Thing is I am willing to believe you, I just need something more than "Believe me because I say so."

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You can be as skeptical as you like. I'm not going to bother to answer rather obvious questions.


Ah, I see. In that case thank you for your time. I wasn't aware there were any questions related to microscopic bacteria that were 'obvious', but evidently there are.

I am glad you have all the answers, may your personal preaching board grow to more than a handful of converts for you to preach to. Goodness knows you aren't going to win many converts by refusing to answer 'obvious' questions.

Carry on.

In the future I would thank you to not take my postings from one board and post them here. Have the stones to actually chime in on the board I posted at that ran you off as a blowhard long on claims and short on evidence over a year ago. My bet is you don't have the guts to actually post your nonsense there. That's why you formed your own board with 10 members to preach to. Thats is why I suspect you no longer post to this board's vermiculture forum either. You post only so long as you don't get called out as a blowhard long on authoritative claims with no evidence other than from commercial sources you buy stuff from.

BTW, you notice how most of your authoritative posts on this forum get no responses? Figure it out. You are selling, but there aren't many buying.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 10:29 pm 
Like I said, the answers are on the web. Go look for them yourself. I'm not doing something that you can do yourself. Beside, you just want to be argumentative. It doesn't matter what answer I provide, you'll just want to see more proof! No wonder. As you are a self proclaimed atheist, anyone who can't see the wonder of nature and the universe and doesn't know that there has to be a God, well, what's the point. You've got bigger problems.

And I can post what I want. You make another wrong assumption that this post has anything to do with you, or some question you posted. Wrong again genius. Excuse me, that should be doubting Thomas. I know you're a legend in your own mind...LOL!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 10:48 pm 
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MrOrganic wrote:
Like I said, the answers are on the web. Go look for them yourself.


OK. Why do you post anything then if any questions will be met with "I won't answer your questions, do a google for yourself?". I have done the googling and the answer I come up with is you have no leg to stand on with your claims. The only sources which support your claims are sources that want to sell a product. If you disagree you may post a source as a refutation or just tell me to google the millions of 'obvious' sites.

Quote:
I'm not doing something that you can do yourself. Beside, you just want to be argumentative. It doesn't matter what answer I provide, you'll just want to see more proof!


Of course! I just wish to argue. That is why I am here. To argue pointlessly. It has nothing to do with being fed up with self proclaimed organic experts who fully understand microbiology lecturing the masses and refusing to provide any evidence whatsoever to the masses that what they preach is actually factual.

I am an organic gardener myself and have switched this year to organic lawn care. During the years of my synthetically ferting my lawn I had plenty of worms and the grass I mulch mowed somehow disappeared, and according to you it did so without the aid of bacteria that were killed by the synthetic ferts. Okaay.

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No wonder. As you are a self proclaimed atheist, anyone who can't see the wonder of nature and the universe and doesn't know that there has to be a God, well, what's the point. You've got bigger problems.


Yes, my problem is that I do not accept things on faith or the word of self appointed know it alls. I expect that if someone says 'I know this to be true' rather than 'I think this is true' that the person who *knows* it to be true won't mind offering up some evidence.

You don't say "I think", all of your posts indicate "I know". If you know, then teach and quit asking your students to believe on faith.

Quote:
And I can post what I want. You make another wrong assumption that this post has anything to do with you, or some question you posted. Wrong again genius. Excuse me, that should be doubting Thomas. I know you're a legend in your own mind...LOL!


Oh, please. Your post here has everything to do with my post at garden web. You practically cut and pasted from it. You don't have the gonads to post there anymore after being run off as a blowhard quack, but you still evidently read there.

Here is the relavent Garden Web post:

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lawns/msg0620155625711.html?12

Anyone with interest can read the source post and decide for themselves how much your OP here is based upon it. Unlike yourself I will post substantiation of any fact based claims I make. If I don't have sources backing up what I say then I indicate my words are opinion, not fact.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 10:54 pm 
LOL! Yea, right. The more you post, the more of a joke you become. I don't have to prove anything to you. Figure it out for yourself. I personally don't care what your think or believe. Your posts are old and predictable, and frankly boring. LOL! What a joke!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 11:08 pm 
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Posts: 204
Location: zone 5 SE Wisconsin
MrOrganic wrote:
LOL! Yea, right. The more you post, the more of a joke you become.


OK

Quote:
I don't have to prove anything to you.


No, you don't.

Quote:
Figure it out for yourself.


I believe I already have and I come to the opposite conculsion you do.

Quote:
I personally don't care what your think or believe.


Fair enough.

Quote:
Your posts are old and predictable, and frankly boring. LOL! What a joke!


OK.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 11:27 am 
Ask any farmer and he may tell you that he is using four or five times more fertilizer today than twenty years ago but the crop yields are lower. This is simply because too much of any substance upsets the delicate balance of nature.

High nitrogen fertilizers destroy beneficial fungi, bacteria, and other soil organisms (including earthworms). Organic matter then cannot be recycled effectively when these creatures are gone so the levels of soil humus drop and the final result is land that cannot grow much of anything without more chemical. This is a pretty good deal for the guys who make synthetic fertilizers but bad news for the rest of us. The truth is that plants can only use so much nitrogen as they grow. Any excessive amount applied is left behind to dissipate back into the air (pure nitrogen is a gas) or eventually form nitrates that wind up in our water supply.

The answer to this problem is to switch back to natural nitrogen sources. Organic fertilizers are by nature low in nitrogen and depend upon bacteria and other microbes to slowly make this nitrogen available to plants .Rainfall for example will test out to be only about 4% nitrogen. So what grows plants better than natural rainfall?...........you guessed it!! As these fertilizers decompose they form humus. Humus acts to hold water and minerals (including N,P, and K) for plant use. As the humus and soil organisms return the natural recycling system (composting) begins once again. After the soil becomes healthy the gardener or farmer actually can reduce the amount of fertilizer they apply. A startling concept to those who keep having to apply more but nonetheless true. For those that would like to see the proof you can go to the City of Austin website or type in growgreen.com. In 2002, Austin became interested in reducing nitrate levels in their aquifers and hired Texas A&M to test several brands and formulations of fertilizers to see which would be best to recommend to their citizens. As you might guess, the organic fertilizers left behind far less nitrate leachate than the synthetic fertilizers. The real surprise to Tony Provin, the A&M scientist who was in charge, was that the organic fertilizers also produced healthier, better looking grass............no kidding!

http://www.fallsonline.com/wichitavalle ... ging2.html


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 6:40 pm 
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MrOrganic wrote:
Ask any farmer and he may tell you that he is using four or five times more fertilizer today than twenty years ago but the crop yields are lower. This is simply because too much of any substance upsets the delicate balance of nature.


While I'm with you in spirit, making such analogies to farming is engaging in "half-truthiness". Soils losing organic matter on farms has a lot to do with tillage practices... the effects of the fertilizers themselves are relatively minor.

(That part of the issue will likely be exascerbated (sp?) if farmers start selling cellulose to ethanol plants.)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 9:25 pm 
While tilling for sure is responsible for much damage, it isn't accurate to say that fertilizers play a minor part. That is incorrect.

Organic fertilizers, besides improving turf density and health, will build up the natural soil microorganisms that promote better root development. This in turn increases tolerance for winter stress and drought stress.

Soil is alive and depends on organic matter to keep it healthy. Just as we require carbon to live so to do the organisms in the soil. Excessive use of synthetic chemical fertilizers has several detrimental effects on the soil. It has been documented that the destruction of soil life due to salt based, synthetic fertilizers. It is a pretty simple process, you have a salt, with a very low moisture pressure (the fertilizer) next to bacteria and other organisms critical to the health and productivity of the soil. These organisms are basically cells filled with water. Water moves from areas of high pressure (the bacteria) to areas of low pressure (the fertilizer). The result? A whole bunch of dead soil microbes. It has also been documented that a depletion of soil life on American farmlands from a natural high of anywhere from 200-2000 species to a low of fewer than 20 species all due, it is believed, to the over-application of salt based fertilizers. (chemical fertilizers are by definition salt based) Furthermore, many of the less expensive forms of these products utilize sources or raw materials that are very high in chloride, also toxic to microbial life.

So what's the big deal? Dead bacteria who cares? Most people do not realize that all the nutrients plants need are cycled at one time or another by the biology in the soil. In fact, most forms of synthetic nitrogen are made available by microbes in the soil. Without the microbes the soil is dead and unproductive.

Furthermore, the microbial life in the soil makes a significant contribution to the structure of the soil which determines how easy it is to work, to the prevention and destruction of pests and diseases, to the overall growth of plants in the soil.

At the same time, due to the excessive use of synthetic nitrogen, soil systems can be affected in several other ways. For example, if there is always an overabundance of soluble nitrogen, many of the microbial systems slow down, why work if we don't need to. Then when the plants need the nitrogen to be converted to a more available form the biological system that makes that happen is not working at optimum efficiency. At the same time, because there is a balance of carbon and nitrogen in the soil, a lot of soluble nitrogen floating around can lead to the destruction of soil organic matter which ultimately leads to loss of soil structure and productivity. This can lead to catastrophic events like the dust bowl in the early part of this century, or erosion at levels far beyond what the soil can naturally replace.

Many chemical fertilizers are acidifying which can cause problems in areas where soils are already acid. Many nutrients are made less available due to high acidity (low pH), which results in plants not being able to use them and suffering from nutrient deficiencies.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:31 pm 
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It's not tilling, but tillage practice that's an issue with the need for multiple infusions on N in a season.

Tilling without re-introducing organic matter (compost or source material) will inevitably lead to te breakdown of the organic matter (humus) in the soil (by oxidizing it). Humus, unlike the mineral components of soil, is able to hold both anions (such as nitrogen) as well as cations (most other soil nutrients are cations).

Heavy-handed irrigation also leaches the N out of the soil, as it cannot bind to the clay particles.

IOW, fertilizer-caused damage isn't the big issue here. The issue is the practices that bring about the need for the fertilizers.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 1:13 pm 
Tilling/tillage, is the same thing, isn't it? A matter of semantics. I should have pointed out my concern is with the homeowner and dealing with lawn care. Not farming or gardening per se.

At any rate I disagree that the use of synthetic chemical fertilizer is a small problem. The facts prove otherwise.

Everything else you mentioned about adding of organic matter is true. It's the re-introduction of organic material that is needed. Like compost which also contains the soil biology needed to break down the organic material and produce humus. Prolonged use of chemical fertilizers will actually deplete the soil's organic matter content and kill the soil's good microbes by starvation leaving the plants completely dependent on the continued use of non-organic formulations.

Lawns, for example, that have been feed for years with chemical "lawn food" require annual de-thatching because there are no beneficial microbes in the soil to break-down the grass clipping and convert them into humus.

I used that quote about farmers to show their increase use of synthetic chemicals but not an increase in yield. Not being a farmer myself, but more concerned about lawn care by the average homeowner and what they use on their lawns. The overuse of synthetic chemicals by homeowners is much higher than what is used by farmers.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:12 pm 
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Well, I was trying to help you make your point better (which involved pointing out that mote in your eye, sorry about that).

Combatting half-truths with polemics and other half truths does absolutely nothing to help those of us doing the work involved getting people to grow organic.

-Johnny, who maintains more than a few lawns and gardens (not to mention my own farm) using organic methods, and has never made up stories to sell his services or produce.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:26 pm 
Well I maintain a few lawns organically and I'm not selling anything. I recommend everyone to use organic practices and so I do nothing to diminish that idea. I guess I don't get your point. If there is a point.

Everything that I mentioned is true and a fact. The over use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and other synthetic products are a huge problem. This is NOT a half truth. This does not take away any validity of the point you make about farming requires the re-establishment of organic materials to maintain healthy soils. However, your statement that the use of synthetic chemicals is not a big problem just is not accurate and misleading, especially when it come to lawn care, either for the home or golf courses.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:11 pm 
New study confirms the ecological virtues of organic farming

Organic farming has long been touted as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional agriculture. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) provides strong evidence to support that claim.

Writing in the March 6 online edition of PNAS, Stanford University graduate student Sasha B. Kramer and her colleagues found that fertilizing apple trees with synthetic chemicals produced more adverse environmental effects than feeding them with organic manure or alfalfa.

"The intensification of agricultural production over the past 60 years and the subsequent increase in global nitrogen inputs have resulted in substantial nitrogen pollution and ecological damage," Kramer and her colleagues write. "The primary source of nitrogen pollution comes from nitrogen-based agricultural fertilizers, whose use is forecasted to double or almost triple by 2050."

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/20 ... 30806.html


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 Post subject: username in Wisconsom
PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:19 am 
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I think the proof is in the pudding, as for me I have been oranically gardening ( even tilling ) for 8 or 9 years now and the beneficial insects have increased so I dont have to use pesticides and plus most chemical fertalizers are wash out of the soil and with alot of watering which is probably why the night crawlers are living in the golf courses. But Mr. Organic is absolutely right that chemicals will kill good bactierai and allow bad bacteria to grow and you have to use more chem fertalizer and more pesticides in the long run. Eventually if you keep using miricle grow and such fertalizers, the soil turns light brown istead of dark in color and the tamatoes will taste better in rich dark organic soil than in chem, light brown soil. You can actually taste the difference in the produce. I can't convince you but I have 8 years that have convinced me and I am still learning more since I've been reading past post here and else where.
Its like this, My lawn which is only in my back yard is growing about 6 oto 7" tall and I plan on mowing it in a few weeks, this way the tall grass will have deep roots that will help sustain the grass when the california heat hit us here in late April and the grass will better tolerate the heat and survive better. We live and learn, hopefully. Will

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