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Willard Beach

Green Slime of Algal Bloom

Cove Behind Hannaford

Synthetic fertilizers harmful to casco bay

Protect South Portland has felt it important that the city pass the companion to our pesticide ordinance: a ban on synthetic fertilizers. We rallied our supporters to attend a city council workshop on April 9 and invited several experts to testify how synthetic fertilizers are harmful to the long term health of our soil and how runoff causes dead zones in our bay. We are happy to report that our council was very receptive to banning these fertilizers and will be working to write an ordinance.

 

So what is the problem with using synthetic fertilizers?

 

Synthetic fertilizers are a quick fix for plants but do not feed the soil on which plants depend. The microbes and healthy life in the soil cannot interact with the chemicals and thus the soil becomes of poorer and poorer quality and less able to nourish the plants. This leads to a cycle of adding more chemical fertilizer even though the plants can only absorb 10% of these synthetic fertilizers. The soil becomes compacted by frequent applications of fertilizers and since these fertilizers are water soluble most of an application runs off into city drains or goes directly into our bay. With the current damaging weather events and torrential rainfalls this compaction exacerbates the amount of run off.

 

In the bay the excessive nitrogen from the runoff causes algal blooms which lead to a depletion of oxygen. Shellfish beds can be smothered and fish can die or leave the area permanently. We depend on bait fish for our lobster industry and lobsters themselves can be threatened.

 

Organic fertilizing such as spreading compost adds humus to the soil and helps aerate the soil and encourages healthy organisms to enrich our soil to produce healthy grass and plants.

 

For information on healthy land care go to: Grow Healthy South Portland

Further reading

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To Nurture Nature, Neglect Your Lawn

Why poison the earth when you can have wildflowers at your feet and songbirds in your trees without even trying? READ MORE

Blades of Grass

How Fertilizers Harm Earth More Than Help Your Lawn

Chemical runoff from residential and farm products affects rivers, streams and even the ocean READ MORE

The Hidden Costs of Chemical Fertilizer

The population boom experienced in the years after WWII demanded an equal expansion on the production of food. For crops to increase their yield, chemical fertilizers began to see mass adoption. READ MORE