Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution ranks as one of the top causes of degradation in some U.S. waters for more than a decade. Large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus lead to regional water quality problems like algal blooms, hypoxia and declines in wildlife habitat.
“Aerobic conditions” in water ways signifies the presence of oxygen in a hydrological system. The natural cycles of the water feature may be more or less in balance until an excess of nitrate, or nitrogen, and/or phosphate enters the system. At this time, water plants and algae begin to grow more rapidly than normal. There is also an excess die off of plants and algae as sunlight is blocked at lower levels. Bacteria try to decompose the organic waste, consuming the oxygen, which reduces fish populations, and releases more phosphate which is known as “recycling or internal cycling”. Some of the phosphate may be precipitated as iron phosphate and stored in the sediment where it can then be released if anoxic conditions develop.
Industrial agriculture is a leading cause of water pollution in the U.S. In the 2000 National Water Quality Inventory conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agricultural activity was identified as a source of pollution for 48% of stream and river water and for 41% of lake water. Many small sustainable farms conserve water and apply waste and fertilizer to fields responsibly, minimizing their impact on local water systems.
Dead zones have already begun to appear, notably in the Gulf of Mexico,
which is fed by nitrogen-rich water from the Mississippi river. "We are
looking at major effects in the US, Europe and south-east Asia," Dr Watson
As the world's population is estimated to grow to 9 billion in 40 years,
food production is expected to become more intensive, requiring ever more
Kenneth Cassman, an expert on environmental health at the Universityof
Nebraska, said the efficiency of nitrogen use needed to be "massively
improved". "There are a number among us who think this is more important
than carbon emissions, in terms of environmental impact," he said.
In a separate part of the study, the scientists found that global warming
would severely disrupt ecosystems, especially in the developing world, if it
was not kept in check. An increase of more than 2C (3.6F) would be enough to
severely degrade the availability of food, water and human health in
"We can move in a direction where we destroy our natural heritage or we can
move in a direction where we improve both human wellbeing and maintain our
natural heritage," he said. "We've got choices and we have to decide which
future we want."
HOW WE GROW MATTERS
Chitin is a long-chain polymer of a N-acetylglucosamine, a derivative of glucose, and is found in many places throughout the natural world. It is the main component of the cell walls of fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods such as crustaceans (e.g., crabs, lobstersand shrimps) and insects, the radulas of mollusks, and the beaks of cephalopods, including squidand octopuses. In terms of structure, chitin may be compared to the polysaccharide cellulose and, in terms of function, to the protein keratin. Chitin has also proven useful for several medical and industrial purposes.
In its unmodified form, chitin is translucent, pliable, resilient, and quite tough. In arthropods, however, it is often modified, becoming embedded in sclerotin, a tanned proteinaceous matrix, which forms much of the exoskeleton. In its pure form, chitin is leathery, but in most invertebrates it occurs largely as a component of composite materials. Combined with say, calcium carbonate, as in the shells of Crustacea, it produces a much stronger composite, harder and stiffer than pure chitin, tougher and less brittle than the mineral substance alone. Another difference between pure and composite forms can be seen by comparing the flexible body wall between the segments of a caterpillar (mainly chitin) to the stiff, light elytron of a beetle (containing a large proportion of sclerotin).
Crab shells have elevated levels of chitin, which encourages soil microorganisms to exude enzymes known as chitinases, which break down the chitin that's a part of nematode egg shells.
The existence of chitin within the fertilizer helps it be an all natural biopesticide that's non-toxic to animals, birds, plants and fish.
These kinds of “good guys” are able to break down the chitin contained in the egg shells of nematodes. This results in many fewer nematodes.
Crab meal is an organic, eco-friendly fertilizer. It's made by drying shells in a kiln and then grinding them into the fine dust. The crabs are usually gathered from Mexico to Maine.
Most recent studies point out that chitin is a good inducer for defense mechanisms in plants It has alsobeen assessed as a fertilizer that can improve overall crop yields. The EPA regulates chitin for agricultural use within the USA. Chitosan is prepared from chitin by deacetylation.
Information sourced from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chitin