We’ve gone from famine to feast in terms of providing nutrients to help plants grow. Back in the day we had to stoop to raiding caves for bird poop (guano), or collecting our own poop (night soil) to make sure our plants didn’t go hungry. Now, too often we rely on the equivalent of a fast food menu. You have your choice of MAP or DAP (mono or di-ammonium phosphate). Both are nice looking crystals and it is very easy to supersize. Farmers applying excess quantities of MAP and DAP are now a big problem.
Drawdown has included nutrients, specifically nitrogen management, on the list of tools to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere. It points out that overuse of nitrogen fertilizers has resulted in high emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a really potent greenhouse gas with 296 times the warming potential of CO2. By reducing use of excess fertilizer, these emissions could be reduced by 2.3 to 12.1 gigatons of CO2. Plus, farmers could save money because buying MAP or DAP isn’t cheap. Instead of over applying fertilizer they recommend that you stick to the 4Rs principle:
1. Right source — Use the right kind of fertilizer for your plants
2. Right time — Feed those plants when they’re hungry
3. Right place — Put that food where their roots can reach
4. Right rate — Choose the appropriate portion size