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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Fertilizer' Category


08
Jun

Sewage Sludge Fertilizers Sold at Hardware Stores Found to be Contaminated with PFAS Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, June 8, 2021) Biosolid-based fertilizer products like Milorganite, often sold to consumers as “organic,” are contaminated with dangerous PFAS chemicals, according to a study published by Sierra Club and Ecology Center. Biosolids, also known as sewage sludge, have been found in the past to contain residues of hazardous pesticides, heavy metals, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and a range of other toxicants. While the latest news may not be surprising for careful shoppers who have long avoided biosolid fertilizers, none of these risks are relayed to consumers on fertilizer packages. With fertilizer regulations failing the American consumer, it becomes more important than ever to seek out certified organic fertilizer products. Sierra Club and Ecology Center looked at nine fertilizer products, each produced from the sewage sludge of a particular American city. For instance, Milorganite, perhaps the most well-known biosolid sludge fertilizer, is derived from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin sewage treatment system. Other products were derived from locations including Sacramento, CA (Synagro); Tacoma, WA (TAGRO); Madison, GA (Pro Care); Las Vegas, NV (Ecoscraps); Eau Claire, WI (Menards Premium Natural Fertilizer); Jacksonville, FL (Greenedge); North Andover, MA (Earthlife); and Washington, DC (Cured Bloom). As the report notes, many of […]

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17
Nov

Synthetic Fertilizers Accelerate Climate Crisis; The Way We Feed People Conflicts with Stabilizing Climate

(Beyond Pesticides, November 17, 2020) Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture is driving global nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions higher than any projected scenario, putting the world at greater risk of a climate catastrophe. According to research published by an international team of scientists in the journal Nature, failure to adequately address nitrous oxide emissions has the potential to impede the ability for the world to keep warming below the 2°C target established under the Paris Climate Agreement, necessitating further cuts in other greenhouse gasses. The paper is a clarion call for greater attention to agriculture’s role in generating and mitigating the climate crisis. “The dominant driver of the increase in atmospheric nitrous oxide comes from agriculture, and the growing demand for food and feed for animals will further increase global nitrous oxide emissions,” explains study lead author Hanqin Tian,  PhD, director of the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research at Auburn University in Alabama. “There is a conflict between the way we are feeding people and stabilizing the climate.” Nitrous oxide both damages ozone and warms the atmosphere, as it is roughly 300x better at capturing heat than carbon dioxide. To account for global nitrous oxide emissions, […]

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20
Oct

Take Action: Remove Known Carcinogens from Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, October 20, 2019) USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) should remove nonorganic celery powder from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for use in organic food production. It has been long-established that nitrates and nitrites, used to prevent bacterial growth in processed meats, react with protein to create nitrosamines, which are widely considered to be possible carcinogens. The World Health Organization considers processed meat “a known carcinogen.” Tell NOSB to remove carcinogenic nonorganic celery powder from organic processed meat. For too long the meat industry, including organic processors, have engaged in a form of subterfuge by being able, and in fact required, to label meat preserved with celery powder as “no nitrates or no nitrites added” or “uncured.” The use of conventional celery powder, with amped up applications of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, creates the same functional and biological impacts as synthetic nitrates/nitrates as a meat preservative. The federal laws governing organics are clear. To legally use a synthetic compound, or a natural or agricultural material that is not certified organic, in the production of certified organic product, it must appear on the list of approved substances. And to do so, proposed materials must not damage the environment or […]

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28
Aug

Synthetic Fertilizers Disrupt Carbon-Capturing Ability of Salt Marshes

(Beyond Pesticides, August 28, 2019) Salt marshes, areas of coastal grassland regularly flooded by saltwater, provide a major global service by sequestering and storing carbon in the form of organic matter. However, research finds that nitrate from synthetic fertilizers found in agricultural runoff could change the microbial composition of the salt marshes to encourage organic matter decomposition and, therefore, carbon release versus capture. The study, “Nitrate addition stimulates microbial decomposition of organic matter in salt marsh sediments,” was published in Global Change Biology. Researchers from Massachusetts conducted their study on salt marsh sediments located in Plum Island Sound, MA. They took three core samples from the site, sectioning each one into shallow, mid, and deep sediments. The researchers set out to determine “the role of nitrate as an electron acceptor, and its effect on organic matter decomposition and the associated microbial community in salt marsh sediments.” In sum, they tested soil samples to see how a large amount of available nitrate would impact microbes, and therefore the carbon-sequestering constitution of the soil, versus a plain saltwater control. The results indicate that nitrates stimulate the production of dissolved inorganic carbon, leading to decomposition of organic matter that would otherwise remain stable […]

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06
Mar

Nutrient Runoff, Aquatic Weed Killers, and Florida’s Red Tide Collide in Public Debate

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2019) After a brief hiatus, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is continuing use of aquatic herbicides, including glyphosate, for invasive species management. Public pressure and feedback caused FWC to take a temporary pause from spraying while the commission collected public comment  through public hearings and emails from late January through February. FWC ultimately decided to resume spraying invasive species, and points to its improved integrated management system as reducing overall herbicide use. Glyphosate, one of the 17 aquatic herbicides that FWC uses regularly has sparked opposition from environmentalists and the general public due to its wide usage and known adverse effects. According to FWC data, 12,263 pounds of glyphosate-based herbicides were used on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee in 2017. About 175,000 people have signed North Palm Beach photographer and wildlife advocate Jim Abernathy’s petition titled “Stop The State-Sanctioned Poisoning of Our Lakes and Rivers!”. The petition decries the use of glyphosate to kill invasive aquatic plants and warns of subsequent nutrient pollution caused by decay. An excess of nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) in water bodies contribute to algal blooms. Eutrophication can eventually result in oxygen depletion and thereby decrease biodiversity. FWC denies that the […]

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11
Jul

Regenerative Farms Yield Soil Health and Higher Profits than Chemical-Intensive Operations

(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2018) Ecologically-based farming systems contain far fewer pests and generate much higher profits than their conventional, chemical-based counterparts according to research published in the journal PeerJ earlier this year by scientists at South Dakota State University and the Ecdysis Foundation. The study supports calls to reshape the future of agriculture, as ‘regenerative’ farms, which avoid tillage and bare soil, integrate livestock, and foster on-farm diversity. These farms are found to represent an economically viable alternative to overly simplified, pesticide and fertilizer-dependent cropping systems. Given the study’s focus on corn cropping systems, such a shift is possible for thousands of farmers throughout the United States. Researchers looked at roughly 75 fields on 18 farms, measuring the organic matter in the soil, insect pest populations, corn yield as well as profit. Farms using pesticide treatments, which in corn fields is represented primarily by the use of neonicotinoid-coated seeds, had 10x higher pest levels than regenerative farms. As noted in the study, pest populations are a function of the biodiversity within the crop field. Biodiveristy increased on regenerative farms not only because farmers sprayed fewer pesticides, but because they also allowed more plants to grow in between rows. More […]

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30
Mar

Chemical-Intensive Farms Singled Out for Excessive Use of “New” Nitrogen Fertilizers

(Beyond Pesticides, March 30, 2018) While conventional farming practices rely primarily on new sources of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to grow crops, organic agriculture conserves nitrogen by using recycled sources, as detailed by new research published by the University of Virginia (UVA) and The Organic Center. Of concern is ‘reactive nitrogen,’ which is nitrogen in a form that will eventually be used by plants (ex. nitrous oxide (N2O), nitrate (NO3–), nitrite (NO2–), ammonia (NH3), and ammonium (NH4+)), rather than benign, non-reactive nitrogen in the form of N2.  “This research is significant and timely because its findings show that many common organic farming practices—like composting and the use of manure fertilization in place of synthetic fertilizers—can recycle reactive nitrogen that is already in the global system rather than introducing new reactive nitrogen into the environment, and thus have a much smaller environmental impact,” said Jessica Shade, PhD of The Organic Center. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of California Davis published a study in Science Advances with the finding that regulators in the state drastically underestimate chemical-intensive agriculture’s contribution to nitrogen oxide (NOx) caused air pollution, acid rain, and respiratory illness in the state. While NOx  pollution is usually associated with energy production and […]

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