Solubility vs. Biology

Solubility vs. Biology

The Impact of Soluble Fertilizer Inputs on Agroecosystems

The notion that fertilizers must be water soluble for passive uptake by plant roots is inconsistent with the processes of nature. There is actually very little, if any, dissolved plant nutrients in well‐balanced natural soil solutions of productive soils. High concentrations of dissolved “plant food” are not typical of natural soil systems. For example, there is only about 1 pound of soluble nitrogen in an acre of soil solution under natural conditions. When highly soluble plant food is applied to living soil systems in quantities typical of high‐input agriculture, they disrupt the complex relationships among microbes, plant roots, soil organic matter, and minerals, resulting in lost profits and extensive damage to the entire ecosystem. There is a place for soluble inputs in agriculture, but their use must be limited as they have a propensity to contaminate the soil and water environments. The use of highly soluble fertilizers creates conditions that are remarkably similar to human drug addiction1; continued use only leads to further dependence on synthetic fertilizers and pesticide intervention.

Fortunately, numerous ecologically sound practices have emerged recently. The evolution of new bio‐compatible inputs for sustainable agriculture meet more demanding standards than simple solubility. In fact, they generally ignore water solubility, making them fit for the purpose of life. Mineral inputs used in ecologically sound agriculture have to be geochemically complex as well, making them more compatible with the geological cycles of soil ecosystems that support an extremely complex underground living ecosystem. Additionally, they must have surface structures that are compatible with the complex soil carbon compounds released by plants and microbes; synthetic chemicals cannot meet those requirements. For more information, please read the following article.

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