Week 5 - Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides

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  • Earlier settlers plowed under the natural tall grasses that covered the plains and planted crops they had planted in the wetter East. When the drought came, the crops failed, the ground was uncovered and the incessant winds produced the dust storms.
  • WW1 – British Victory Garden Explosion and WWII Americans…
  • 1940’s
  • Crops compete with 80,000 plant diseases, 30,000 weed species, 10,000 insects and 3,000 worms
  • Animal production depended on pest management methods that are basically the same today as they were then. Producers sprayed chemical directly on their animals to protect them from external parasites.
  • Spraying Apples 1940’s
  • Spraying apples 1940s
  • Spraying Weeds
  • Experimental Plot Spraying
  • Fertilizer consumption has increased exponentially since the 1950s, so much so that 50% of all commercial fertilizer ever produced has been applied since 1984.
  • WestFertlizer Company Explosion – April 17, 2013 ammonia nitrate caused the explosion in West, Texas – 15 people died and over 160 injured
  • Week 5 - Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides

    1. 1. Top 10 Reasons WHY DIY COMPOST IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN MIRACLE-GRO!
    2. 2. Compost encourages beneficial microbes to get it on instead of squashing their hopes and dreams.
    3. 3. Hello three-eyed fish! Compost reduces surface runoff while synthetic fertilizers are highly soluble, causing runoff pollution.
    4. 4. You can’t trust bagged soil from a billionaire seed company! (Miracle-Gro = O.M. Scott = Roundup = Monsanto)
    5. 5. Let’s inject our food with more ammonium phosphate, chemicals, potash (excess chlorine)…Yum!
    6. 6. Synthetic fertilizer is like a one night stand! It feeds off short- term, voluptuous growth and then leaves your plants feeling used and neglected.
    7. 7. Instead of contaminating the soil, compost actually neutralizes toxins such as pesticides, salts, and heavy metals.
    8. 8. “Caution! You should avoid contact with skin or eyes when using Miracle-Gro.” Guess what folks? Your pets, kids, and Uncle Rico can play in the compost all they want to.
    9. 9. Compost improves plant health and suppresses disease while synthetic fertilizers burn plant roots leaving them vulnerable to pest and disease. Too Much isn’t Always a Good Thing…
    10. 10. Why do we need Miracle-Gro in the first place? Compost reduces fertilizer requirements altogether!
    11. 11. It’s silly to pay for soil when making your own compost is free!
    12. 12. + =It’s as EASY as... Composting 101
    13. 13. Nitrogen Material “wet” or “green” Provides protein to the microorganisms  Fruit scraps  Veggie scraps  Grass clippings  Manure  Coffee & Tea  Eggshells  Spent Houseplants, Garden Cuttings, Bouquets…*  Hair (Dog & Human)  Vacuum Dust  And yes, Human Urine… * non-diseased and bug free plants
    14. 14. Carbon Material “dry” or “brown” Energy/food to the microorganisms  Dead Leaves  Hay and Straw  Sawdust / Woodchips  Dryer Lint  Napkins & paper towels  Waxed paper - milk cartons  Pizza Boxes  Newspaper & Paperboard (shredded)  Corn Cobs (takes awhile to compost)  Pine Needles (too much slows down pile)
    15. 15. Neutral Ingredients  Beverages – flat soft drinks (mix it in so sugar doesn’t attract flies)  Wood Ashes (sprinkle small amounts)  Gray Water without detergent or bleach  Use water from washing veggies  Catch water running to heat up shower
    16. 16. Carbon : Nitrogen Nitrogen Volumes Control Compost Temperature  LOW Nitrogen = pile will NOt HEAT up.  HIGH Nitrogen = the compost may become TOO HOT, killing the compost microorganisms, or it may go anaerobic, resulting in a foul-smelling mess. Goal should be C:N 30:1
    17. 17. Too Much Carbon: When C:N > than 30 •Decomposition is Slow •Nitrogen is used up •To complete decomposition process - MO’s will draw from stored N and soil N to make use of available C •This is “robbing” the soil of N and delays availability of N as a fertilizer for plants
    18. 18. Too Much Nitrogen: When C:N < than 30 •MO’s make full use of available C •Get rid of excess N as ammonia gas •Unhealthy release of ammonia into atmosphere – creates a terrible smell •Produces a loss of N from the compost pile •Keep to a minimum if at all
    19. 19. Basic Steps  Add “Green Stuff” = Nitrogen  Add “Brown Stuff” = Carbon  Mix  Check Moisture  Harvest!
    20. 20.  1920s – over plowed, over planted, and over grazed  1930s – drought, heat, and wind and low agricultural prices  Cause – drought and unwise farming practices!  By 1934 – 100 million acres of farmland lost all or most of top soil to winds and drought  Soil conservation legislation – gov’t paid farmer to let land idle (fallow)  POLICY POLICE - Encouraged farmers to plant certain crops, rotate, renew soil nutrients, prevent erosion…
    21. 21.  Hard times in the Great Plains – drought and depression  Same time – better technology forced farmers to buy:  Tractors  New hybrid seeds  Chemicals – synthetic pesticides  Irrigation systems  More land  Farms got bigger = fewer farmers on the same amount of land  Trend has continue until today!
    22. 22.  War ended the Great Depression – Federal spending grew the factories  Greater demand for farm products  Farmers went off to war – who’s going to grow our food?  Brought an end to the horse-drawn era of farming  End of 1930’s drought – boom of irrigation systems  New technology – more work in fewer hours
    23. 23.  Government rationed sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods  Labor and transportation shortages – difficult to move fruits and vegetables to local markets  Government encouraged citizens to plant “Victory Gardens”  Also known as “war gardens,” “food gardens for defense”  Formation of first neighborhood cooperatives
    24. 24.  20 million Americans built home gardens in backyards, empty lots and city rooftops  Similar to movement today – new hip trend!  “Can for the Troops!” in 1943 – 315,000 pressure cookers purchased  USDA estimates the result of this movement =  20 million gardens  9-10 million tons of vegetables and fruit  Equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables  WWII ended, so did gov’t promotion of victory gardens!  Many people did not plant a garden in 1946
    25. 25.  End of war in 1945 – War industries needed to find civilian use for war technologies  Postwar known as the “dawning of the chemical age in pesticides”  DDT – from grasshoppers to house flies  DDT allowed chemists to create over 10,000 new chemicals through experiments  Lead to organochloride and organophosphates of today
    26. 26.  Today, US farmer spends over $11 billion on all pesticides – 58% herbicides, 28% insecticides, and 8% fungicides  Herbicide 2,4-D known as “wonder drug” for eradicating weeds  Surplus of pilots from the war joined aerial spraying co.
    27. 27. EVENTS What happens? What is generally UNSEEN PATTERNS & TRENDS What’s been happening? What are the trends? What changes have occurred? UNDERLYING STRUCTURES, ORGANIZATIONS What influences the above patterns? MENTAL MODELS: Assumptions, values... What assumptions do people have about the above? L E A R N I N G
    28. 28.  Great Book! – Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook  No Seasonality – tomatoes anytime you want em’  Wrong Climate – Grown in Florida!  Disease, nematodes, weeds...  Fumigation  Excess Synthetic Fertilizers  Sterilized with Chlorine  Picked from the vine GREEN  Gassed with ethylene to ripen  Low Wages, Slavery, & Poison
    29. 29. 1). PROBLEM = Wrong Climate – Grown in Florida!  Never Winter – organisms and insects do not die from frosts, blizzards, or cold snaps like rest of US  Humidity feeds blights, wilts, spots, and molds  Tomato already sensitive to these issues  Sandy soil means no water retention and no nutrients  Pests, fungi, nematodes, weeds... THRIVE!
    30. 30. 2). SOLUTION = Fumigation with methyl bromide, 31!  Want to kill EVERYTHING in the soil  Methyl Bromide – one of the most toxic chemicals  PAN’s “Bad Actor”  Can kill humans after brief exposure in small concentrations  Sub lethal doses – disruptions in estrogen production, sterility, birth defects…  Banned from most crops – still used on strawberries, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes  Injected into newly formed beds and sealed with polyethylene mulch  “Soil chemotherapy” – makes soil lifeless
    31. 31. SOLUTION = Now the Herbicides  More than 100 chemicals at Florida farmer’s hands  Chemical Names – Arrow, Aim, Touchdown, Cobra, Firestorm, GoalTender, and Prowl  Six are PAN’s “Bad Actors” SOLUTION = Finally the Fungicides  Tomatoes notoriously vulnerable to fungal attack in FL Keep leaves green and spotless with 31 fungicides Eleven are PAN’s “Bad Actors” An acre of FL tomatoes gets hit 5X as much as an acre of CA tomatoes EWG found 54% of samples contained detectable levels of pesticides
    32. 32. 3). CONSEQUENCE = Excess Synthetic Fertilizers!  Now that you’ve killed all the BAD and GOOD microorganisms in the soil, must add nutrients  Creates excess SALTS!  TEMPORARY boost to soil productivity!  Inability of soil to retain all the fertilizer applied!  Estimated that ½ of every metric ton of fertilizer applied to fields never makes it into plant tissue – evaporates or washes into local waterways
    33. 33.  Early crop nutrition - fallowing, manures, cover crops…  1840s –guano (dried sea bird manure) & rock phosphate  Early 1900s – dependence on Nitrogen (=N) from legumes  Synthetic Fertilizers - concentrated and convenient to use  Scientific calculations to meet individual crop req. instead of unbalanced ratio of nutrients from animal manures  Got the P & K from NPK (not just nitrogen)  USDA recommended mix of fertilizers at home – more control for farmer
    34. 34.  WWI - N was a prime component of TNT  Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch – synthesis of ammonia  1921 – first NH3-based fertilizers in US (inorganic/ synthetic)  By 1920s – inorganic N was half the price of organic N  Natural gas – key component of NH3  Petroleum and gas producers – major fertilizer producers  WWII - US Gov’t built 10 new plants to produce ammonia for munitions and N for bombs (730,000 tons NH3 /yr.)  After the war, the surplus was used for fertilizing crops
    35. 35.  Production of nitric acid, the primary feedstock for synthetic commercial fertilizer, is also a source of nitrous oxide  Nitrous Oxide - a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide  Accounted for 15.9 Tg CO2E in 2005  Equivalent emissions of 2.9 million vehicles.
    36. 36.  “Better Safe than Sorry” Attitude  Surplus nutrients stimulate plant growth  Algae blooms – consumes all O2 available in the water and cause other plants and animals to suffocate  Fertilizer runoff created “dead zone” 7,000 square miles in Gulf of Mexico  UN reported 150 dead zones in world’s oceans in 2007
    37. 37.  Bayer – world’s largest agrochemical co. / 7th largest seed co.  Syngenta – 2nd largest agrochemical / 3rd largest seed  Monsanto – world’s largest seed co. / 5th largest agrochemical co.  DuPont – 2nd largest seed / 6th largest agrochemical
    38. 38. 1. Bayer (Germany) - $7,458m - 19% 2. Syngenta (Switzerland) - $7,285m - 19% 3. BASF (Germany) - $4,297m - 11% 4. Dow AgroSciences (USA) - $3,779m - 10% 5. Monsanto (USA) - $3,599m - 9% 6. DuPont (USA) - $2,369m - 6% 7. Makhteshim Agan (Israel) - $1,895m - 5% 8. Nufarm (Australia) - $1,470m - 4% 9. Sumitomo Chemical (Japan) - $1,209m - 3% 10. Arysta Lifescience (Japan) - $1,035m - 3% Total $34,396m - 89% Source: Agrow World Crop Protection News, August 2008

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