Bad, Bad Chemical Fertilizers?

by Randy Greene

Are chemical fertilizers really as bad as we have been told? Chemical fertilizers are here for a reason.  They are meant to provide food for a plant regardless of the condition of the soil.  The most concise way to explain the purpose of chemical fertilizers is that they are meant to “provide the means for a large scale producer to grow a crop in a systematic process so the entire process can be duplicated and managed in order to produce products that can be supplied in large quantities to solve a large volume need”.

As an individual who prefers organic methods, this statement has been rolling around in my mind for some time, especially after a brief discussion with a customer who was questioning the validity of organics and his departing words were, “I would hate to see where we would all be if we were all organic.”  When this gentleman made this statement it dawned on me that in his mind it was an “either/or” situation and he was not able to see past his own history.  The mindset that says you can not do without chemicals is only looking at the belief that the only way we can grow anything is by using chemicals.

Similarly, some individuals that believe in organic methods believe that the only way to grow anything is by not using chemicals.  We as consumers want to have what we want when we want it.  This mindset can cause us to not consider what it takes to get the products we use on our tables or in our homes.  We don’t truly understand what it takes to make either method, chemical or organic, work.  Chemical fertilizers have their place in the world, and they always will. However, over use and inappropriate practices should not be tolerated.  Organics have their place in the world as well, but the practicality of organics and end results are something that will have to be evaluated when choosing organic practices.  For those who understand dirt and aren’t wanting to grow in industrial sized operations, organics make sense.  In today’s world you have a choice to use organics or not.  Consumers are becoming more educated in the impacts of the overuse and abuse of chemicals and this may be why more and more are choosing organic practices.  You can make a decision on how you want to live life and what aspects of your life you are willing to manage organically or not.  Not having this choice is what we should be worried about. Not having stores that carry the products you can use to replace the chemicals.  Not having the ability to buy products from people who believe in not using chemicals, and have the knowledge to do so.  These are all much bigger problems then just making the choice to “go organic” or not.

When and if you choose to stay away from chemicals, not having stores or access to the products to replace the functions of the chemicals is the same as being forced to use chemicals because of limited options.  Without stores that can provide products to replace the functions of the chemicals there would not be a choice of chemical or organic.

Randy Greene is the owner of Green’s Country Store & Feed, 8621 Highway N, Lake St. Louis. 636-561-6637.