Author Topic: Introduction to Environmental Considerations  (Read 1820 times)

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Introduction to Environmental Considerations
« on: April 27, 2011, 02:07:20 PM »
Nitrogen and phosphorus are both major water pollutants. Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that is highly soluble and can leach readily into water. Regardless of the form of nitrogen applied, it will be converted to nitrate by soil bacteria unless the soil is fairly acid. Nitrate is the form of nitrogen used most by plants, except those that thrive in acid soil. We must be careful to avoid excess nitrate levels because nitrate can contaminate drinking water and it is a health hazard. The best way to avoid such problems is to use nitrogen moderately. High levels of soil organic matter and/or nitrogen-containing fertilizers pose a threat to water quality. If the soil organic matter is above five percent there is an increased risk of leaching. Nitrate levels are normally at their highest during midsummer, when bacteria are rapidly decomposing soil organic matter. Nitrate levels can be checked by having the soil tested during midsummer. Levels above 30 to 40 ppm are generally not beneficial to plants and increase the threat to water. High nitrogen run-off is particularly harmful near salt water such as oceans or bays, where it can cause excess algae and seaweed growth.

Phosphorus in soil and in natural organic fertilizers is highly insoluble, and does not normally leach. However, it can move from lawns to water bodies as a result of erosion or misapplication. High phosphorous in fresh water bodies can lead to excess algae and aquatic plant growth, which can harm aquatic life, infest ponds and lead to the application of aquatic herbicides.

Be careful to have appropriate buffer zones adjacent to streams and other bodies of water, with appropriate vegetation to prevent erosion and to filter out pollutants before they reach the water. Also be careful to clean up any fertilizer from pavement or other impervious surfaces to keep it from washing down storm drains and into waterways.