Excessive use of chemical fertilizers poses serious threat to aquatic life

Srinagar, Feb 10: Experts have warned that excessive use of chemical fertilizers could lead to uncontrollable growth of algae and floating weeds which could have serious environmental implications.

According to the official document of Department of Soil Science, SKAUST, commonly used fertilizers including Urea, Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), Muriate of Potash (MOP), have serious side effects.

 “These fertilizers help in forming strong root systems and develop flowers or fruit.  However, they get washed out with rain and irrigation. When phosphorus and nitrate levels rise in water bodies, aquatic plants such as algae and floating weeds, can grow out of control,” reads the document.

On an average, fertilizer use increases by 10 to 15 per cent every year in Kashmir, as per the document.

Professor at Department of Soil Sciences, SKAUST, Javed Ahmed Wani said the demand for the chemical fertilizers have increased over the years as huge chunk of agricultural land is converted into orchards for higher productivity.

“Consequently, when you want a higher yield, you will press for similar measures which will expedite the crop growth,” he said.

Professor Wani noted that urea and di-ammonia phosphate in particular have serious environmental implications.

“The phenomenon of nutrient enrichment of aquatic bodies is known as eutrophication, which deteriorate the water quality leading to death of fish. Moreover, the seepage of fertilizers and pesticides also pollutes the ground water,” he said.

Professor Wani said if farmers switch to ‘Integrated nutrient management”, the excessive use of chemical fertilizers can be controlled.

“Under this concept, we are telling farmers to use 75 percent fertilizers and compensate 25 percent with organic nutrients like crop residues, manure and vermin compost. They can restore soil nutrients especially nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and ramp up output without compromising with the quality,” he said.

Dr Samiullah Bhat, Researcher at Department of Environmental Sciences, said efforts should be made to promote organic fertilizers. “Organic fertilizers contain essential plant nutrients which increase organic soil carbon and support soil microbial life,” he said.

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When the world fails to make sense, Hirra Azmat seeks solace in words. Both worlds, literary and the physical lend color to her journalism.

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