The Dirt on Peak Fertilizer: What You Need to Know about Big Ag and Farmland

December 8, 2012 | By | Reply More

Lisa Garber, Natural Society
Waking Times

We take so much for granted: water, food, clean air, and the earth we walk upon—which, by the way, is changing for the worse under our very feet. Thanks to aggressive farming techniques by factory farms, our soil is becoming depleted of necessary nutrients. Very soon (and sooner than we’d like), it may be difficult to grow much of anything.

NPK: The 3 Elements of Agriculture

We’ve all heard of peak oil, but less notice has been paid to peak phosphorus and potassium, two of the three key elements in agriculture that allow plants to take root and thrive. (The other element is nitrogen.) Our ancestors rotated fields to allow soil to rest after each harvest to prevent such nutrient depletion, and since the identification of these elements in the 19th century, we’ve put food and animal (sometimes human) waste back into the earth as what began to be called fertilizer in the 20th century. Respecting natural rotation and farming techniques, however, is something Big Ag hasn’t bothered to do.

Phosphorus and Potassium Shortage

These days, we rely on manufactured fertilizer with NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium on the periodic table). Nitrogen can be harnessed from the air and incorporated into synthetic fertilizers (which come with a slew of problems in themselves, not least of which is the need for tremendous amounts of energy in production). The two other elements, however, are making Big Ag stumble. They can’t exactly be synthesized, and there are finite amounts of them in completely different parts of the world. According to Jeremy Grantham (cofounder and chief strategist of the firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, which has avoided or at least predicted every bubble from the ‘80s to today), the problem is more than just Big Ag’s.

“These two elements [phosphorus and potassium] cannot be made, cannot be substituted, are neceeary to grow all life forms, and are mined and depleted… Former Soviet states and Canada have more than 70 percent of the potash. Morocco has 85 percent of all high-grade phosphates. It is the most important quasi-monopoly in economic history… There seems to be only one conclusion: their use must be drastically reduced in the next 20-40 years or we will begin to starve.”

Of the two elements, phosphorus is more urgent—and complicated. After the Spanish colonialists left the Western Sahara, Morocco moved in, perhaps to secure this very resource. The UN recognizes the rebel group Polisario Front as the rightful owners of the territory. Whether in the hands of Moroccans or the rebels, this element will not be traded lightly.

Factory Farming Not the Solution

There’s no way around this in the long run: soil nutrients must be respected and recycled naturally, without synthetic fertilizers to pollute waters and sicken farmers and consumers.  According to Mother Jones writer Tom Philpott, this means society-wide composting and introducing policies to encourage farmers to build up organic matter in their soil. Once again, organic farming looks like the long-term solution.

GMO Free Food Storage

~~ Help Waking Times to raise the vibration by sharing this article with the buttons below…

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Agriculture, Business, Community, Earth, Environment, Food, Governance, Society

Leave a Reply

Must Watch Videos

How Monsanto and Big-Ag are Fighting Back Against Anti-GMO Activism

How Monsanto and Big-Ag are Fighting Back Against Anti-GMO Activism













Dr. Mercola
Waking Times

Between 2012 and mid-2014, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million.

These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and … More

September 16, 2014 | By | Reply More
A Letter To My Siblings

A Letter To My Siblings













Zen Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

A note from Zen: An answer to a question from awakening siblings about how have I kept up with world and American events being outside the US so many years. This is part of a discussion on world topics that we’ve been debating including More

September 13, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More
5 Reasons to Expect Police Brutality to Get Worse Before it Gets Better

5 Reasons to Expect Police Brutality to Get Worse Before it Gets Better













Isaac Davis, Contributor
Waking Times

Few things are more disturbing than looking at the news each day to find yet another shocking case of American police officers using excessive brutality and belligerence against the public. There is no justification for this, and as the list of egregious rights violations by … More

September 11, 2014 | By | 12 Replies More
12 Little-Known Ways That Television Stifles Spiritual Awakening

12 Little-Known Ways That Television Stifles Spiritual Awakening













David Gardner, Guest
Waking Times

Television is a staple of almost every household in the developed world. Many kids spend more time watching TV than going to school, and the average time spent in front of the tube is 4.5 hours a day and rising. What effect does spending so More

September 8, 2014 | By | 9 Replies More
Blue Lotus : The Entheogen of Ancient Egypt

Blue Lotus : The Entheogen of Ancient Egypt













Waking Times

For over 3000 years the Blue Lotus was used by priesthood of ancient Egypt for its medicinal properties and as a spiritual sacrament. The Blue Lotus generally produces mild psychoactive effects that are purported to have a “divine” essence, which brings upon the feelings of tranquility and subtle … More

September 8, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Activism Works

7 Ways Cannabis Legalization Has Already Benefited Colorado

7 Ways Cannabis Legalization Has Already Benefited Colorado













Jeff Roberts, Collective-Evolution
Waking Times

January 1st 2014 saw the opening of the very first cannabis shop in Colorado as the cultivation, manufacture and sale of the controversial plant became fully legalized. Since then, the state has seen a lot of promising results.

Laura Pegram of Drugpolicy.org wrote in her … More

September 16, 2014 | By | Reply More
Sweden Recycling 99 Percent Of Garbage, Edging Closer To Zero-Waste

Sweden Recycling 99 Percent Of Garbage, Edging Closer To Zero-Waste













April McCarthy, Prevent Disease
Waking Times

There’s a revolution happening in Sweden right now. Dubbed the “recycling revolution,” the Scandinavian country now recycles 99 percent of their garbage, edging closer to a zero-waste lifestyle, nationwide.

Wouldn’t it be great if no household waste was wasted? If each and every item … More

September 4, 2014 | By | 6 Replies More
Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients

Food as Medicine: How One Hospital Is Using Organic Produce to Help Heal Patients













Coach Mark Smallwood, EcoWatch
Waking Times

In 431 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”

More than 2500 years later, we are inundated with advertisements boasting the latest, greatest cure-all super drug. From a young age, we learn that it doesn’t matter how or … More

August 23, 2014 | By | 4 Replies More
As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry

As Keystone XL Dominoes Fall, Time to Arrest Tar Sands Industry













, EcoWatch
Waking Times

We’ve got this.

Thanks to the courageous and indefatigable efforts of pipeline fighters everywhere, the tide has finally turned on Keystone XL. As it becomes increasingly clear that Keystone XL’s northern leg is not going through, it is time to set our sights … More

August 4, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More
Seizing Control of Our Destinies

Seizing Control of Our Destinies













Julian Rose, Contributor
Waking Times

In 1381, at a time of great repression for the British agricultural work force, an extraordinary people’s revolutionary named Wat Tyler sprang to his feet and announced, “England should be a nation of self governing communities,” to which he added, “ No lord shall exercise … More

July 28, 2014 | By | 5 Replies More