Some are calling the current oil spill in the Gulf the largest environmental disaster ever.

The largest environmental disaster ever is the annual application of fertilizer to corn, which is happening right now throughout the Country. Only about a third of the fertilizer is used by the corn. A fifth is denitrified in aquifers, drainage ditches and wetlands. About half leaches into aquifers or reaches surface water in runoff. During drought years the crop does not use its third and more goes to surface water. This annual application of excess nitrate causes increased eutraphication of surface water resulting in toxic tides and regular oxygen dead zones. This annual fertilizer application is the greatest environmental disaster ever because:

It is annual

The Gulf, Chesapeake Bay plus 400 bodies of water worldwide have permanent oxygen dead zones. The area in the Gulf where species cannot live is the size of the State of NJ.

The nutrient stimulated algae die and cloud the water preventing light to underwater grasses. These grasses were the basic food and habitat for the Chesapeake Bay. More than 90% have disappeared from the Bay Tributaries.

So when talking about largest ever environmental disasters; nothing compares with the annual chemical fertilizer application Nationwide.

Don Kerstetter


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