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Are We Heading Towards Peak Fertiliser?

    26 responses

Julie starts with ...

You've heard of peak oil—the idea that the globe's easy-to-get-to petroleum reserves are largely cashed, and most of what's left is the hard stuff, buried in deep-sea deposits or tar sands. But what about peak phosphorus and potassium? These elements form two-thirds of the holy agricultural triumvirate of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (also known as NPK, from their respective markers in the periodic table). These nutrients, which are essential for plants to grow, are extracted from soil every time we harvest crops, and have to be replaced if farmland is to remain productive.


http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/11/are-we-heading-toward-peak-fertilizer
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Julie
Roleystone WA
1st June 2013 7:56pm
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Original Post was last edited: 1st June 2013 7:58pm
MJ says...
Interesting article, Julie.
MJ
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76
 
1st June 2013 9:24pm
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amanda says...
Never thought about that b4...I wonder if it will transpire..
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amanda19
 
2nd June 2013 6:10pm
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Brendan says...
Hi Julie, blood & bone has (5% each) of N & P fertilizer, and wood ash 'can' have 10% K fertilizer, add a bit of epsom salts and you have a complete fertilizer,(almost):)
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Brendan
Mackay, Q
3rd June 2013 8:01am
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lenn says...
Do you know why you have cease to hear about 'peak oil'. No? Well it's because new drilling technologies have made the term invalid. Peak fertiliser?? I doubt it.
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lenn
 
3rd June 2013 10:51am
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Jason says...
Most bacteria are 10% nitrogen. Its easy to grow bacteria so at least the most important one is easy
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Jason
Portland
3rd June 2013 11:01am
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MJ says...
Any other easy sources of K? Wood ash apparently isn't recommended for Perth due to our alkaline soil.
MJ
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76
 
3rd June 2013 11:30am
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Jason says...
Makes sense that dead wood has just as much potassium as ash. Only you don't get any nitrogen from ash since all the energy has gone up in fire. Throwing a log of wood or 100 under the trees always seems to work for me
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Jason
Portland
3rd June 2013 12:50pm
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Anonymous says...
I've just mulched with wood chips. Maybe that will do some good...
MJ
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4
 
3rd June 2013 12:54pm
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Jason says...
Maybe but I don't think it breaks down like a real log does, real logs make more cracks and such for things to live in and eat them
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Jason
Portland
3rd June 2013 1:05pm
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Julie says...
lenn, new drilling tecnologies cause more problems than they are worth.

We have overused phosphorous in the past - probably still are - and this is the one most likely to run out first. I've read many times that farms often have a bank of P which is locked up in the soil.

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Julie
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3rd June 2013 7:29pm
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Brendan says...
MJ, Granite dust is another source of K.
And when using wood chips as mulch, always add extra nitrogen and dolomite.
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Brendan
Mackay, Q
4th June 2013 8:26am
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Original Post was last edited: 4th June 2013 8:33am
MJ says...
Was the dolomite for the magnesium? Does dolomite raise pH?

I should send off for a proper soil analysis (or a kit, I've seen them advertised somewhere) and test for all these things. (I've tested in various places for pH already. Rather high...)

Ta!
MJ
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76
 
4th June 2013 10:14am
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Brendan says...
Yes MJ, the dolomite was for the magnesium, so in your case with a already high pH, you could use epsom salts instead.
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Brendan
Mackay, Q
5th June 2013 8:54am
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MJ says...
Thanks, Brendan. Epsom salts it is!
MJ
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76
 
5th June 2013 9:59am
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y3yrr says...
Are you aware of what the new technologies are for extracting liquid hydrocarbons,Julie? Or is yours a blanket opinion -new technology must be bad.
I think it's worth mentioning because everyone and his cat was all excited about "peak oil" And now not a word. If you live long enough you come to realise that these enthusiasms come and then they go. Peak fertiliser, who wants to take a bet?
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y3yrr
sydney
5th June 2013 4:06pm
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Boris Spasky says...
Unless animals stop dropping things off out the back end, the sky won't fall anytime soon.
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Boris Spasky
 
5th June 2013 4:29pm
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Julie says...
Yes, y3yrr,I am very aware of fracking. As you don't know me, please don't make assuptions eg 'new technology must be bad'.

Have you seen the film 'Gasland'?

Boris, we should be recycling animal manure, but much of it is wasted in feedlots. The old mixed farm,where everything was cycled around the farm has pretty well gone, as it is seen as inefficient. Most farms now rely on bought phosphorous.

Here's an interesting article about food production in Russia.

http://naturalsociety.com/russians-prove-small-scale-organic-can-feed-world/?utm_source=Natural+Society&utm_campaign=43b65d962d-Email+170%3A+5%2F31%2F2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f20e6f9c84-43b65d962d-323119937


According to some statistics, they grow 92% of the entire countries’ potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of its fruit, and feed 71% of the entire population from privately owned, organic farms or house gardens all across the country. These aren’t huge Agro-farms run by pharmaceutical companies; these are small family farms and less-than-an-acre gardens.



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Julie
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5th June 2013 7:55pm
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Original Post was last edited: 5th June 2013 8:01pm
y3yrr says...
I'm afraid fracking was not the new tech. I was referring to. It's a shame that you go online ,pass opinions and be 'how shall I say' less than fully informed.
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y3yrr
sydney
6th June 2013 8:01am
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BJ says...
y3yr2, please stop being aloof and post something of substance.
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Theposterformerlyknownas
Brisbane
6th June 2013 9:18am
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denise1 says...
By having soil analyzed you know what to give soil and exactly how much. Not only good for soil and crop but possibly less expensive and avoid making soil worse. Look out for a really good laboratory. With appropriate tilling and crop rotation or whatever it can even grow your soil.
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denise1
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6th June 2013 10:30am
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Mike says...
To me it seems peak fertiliser is still a way off and there will be ways for backyard folk to get NPK for small scale use.The issue at a larger scale relating to big areas of arable land and soil loss is harder to resolve.Micronutrients as well as macros are going down through the soil,into groundwater and flowing to the sea.We are not replacing the organic matter containing macros amd micros that would be recycled in natural systems.
Fracking like most wide area extractive industry processes has the potential to go very wrong and have serious impacts.The jury is still out on whether it can be done on a sustainable basis that minimises environmental harm.I am sure the mining industry would not engage in high risk activities in sensitive areas where things are likely to go wrong.
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6th June 2013 10:33am
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y3yrr says...
There is a certain neurotic satisfaction in warning darkly about upcoming disasters.The person giving the warning poses as a visionary able to discern what others cannot. Want to know if we are running out of something? Just check the price!
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y3yrr
sydney
6th June 2013 2:19pm
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y3yrr says...
PS check Julie's warning about Zeiger Genetics being a GM technology. After this statement was comprehensively debunked ,the same Julie comes back a few months later and states it again. Her explanation --'someone told me'.
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y3yrr
sydney
6th June 2013 2:23pm
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Mike T says...
Thanks y3yrr,darkness appears in the strangest places. Sometimes it is worthwhile to remember that soils run down over time and it will be getting more expensive to replace them as easy sources are used up. It isn't new or unknown idea as many ancient cultures found out. Trying to have vision and respond to situation is always a better way to go than denying or living in the past.
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Cairns
6th June 2013 6:57pm
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Julie says...
Mike, I was thinking mostly of large scale farming when I posted the article.( BTW, I only posted it - I didn't write it! I thought it might be worth discussing and thinking about. Pity about the rude comments).

Back yard growers fare much better, especially organic growers, as they tend to be more conservative with fertilisers and recycle nutrients.

Jason, I agree - nitrogen is the easy one. Probably why it wasn't mentioned.
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Julie
Roleystone WA
6th June 2013 7:05pm
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Original Post was last edited: 6th June 2013 9:34pm
y3yrr says...
Phosphorus was originally isolated from human urine where it happily resides waiting for the day it is economically viable to 'mine'. I read some Sweden does use public urinals for agriculture. As for potassium there are huge deposits in Canada ,recently purchased by BHP-Biliton..
If you must worry about something look to the extreme stratification of society when jobs are sent off-shore and we become a nation of peasants and gentry.
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y3yrr
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7th June 2013 9:03am
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