Please Explain: Fertilizer

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fertilizer is crucial for food—plants need it in order to grow and thrive. Harold Van Es, professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at Cornell University, explains what fertilizer is made of, why it's so important, and how to manage it.

Let us know if you have a question! Leave it as a comment or call us at 212-433-9692.



Harold Van Es

Comments [8]

William Pollock from Jackson NJ

Please note that most states have Soil Conservation Boards, one in NJ is
NJ residents can get their soil tested and analyzed at their county Agricultural Extension office or Rutgers University Soils Lab.

There is a fertilizer law in NJ as well to protect the fresh water and estuaries especially Barnegate Bay. The nitrogen loading in the bay from storm water run off impacts aqua culture and natural sea life.

One important fact not really explained is that the soil is not just the three fertilizer ingredients. There are billions of micro-organizims that work symbiotically with the plant to convert the nutrients with the addition of sunlight, photosynthesis, water, air, carbon dioxide into edible plant material. That is the reason the micro-organizims in compost are more effective in restoring soil health after using up those micro-organizims from crops that deplete the soil.

Contact your local Soil Conservation District for free educational materials pertaining to restoring soil health in NJ and NYS.

Apr. 12 2013 02:08 PM
ryan from brooklyn

how many seasons should one be able to expect from soil being used to grow vegetables in rooftop containers, assuming that some fertilizer or compost is being added each year?

Apr. 12 2013 01:55 PM
Brian Becker from Rockaway

In Rockaway Beach we have much tree and bush and lawn damage from Sandy. What to do. when to give up on evergreens

Apr. 12 2013 01:47 PM
Bob from Brooklyn

What about human semen as fertilizer? Would it work?

Seriously, so many emissions from teenage boys could go to go use!

Apr. 12 2013 01:46 PM
Peg from Ithaca NY

Pleas explain what bio char is.

Apr. 12 2013 01:40 PM
John from Wantagh

Please ask your guest if he knows what happened to Milorganite, a municipal waste fertilizer that was great on my lawn, and haven't seen for sale?

Apr. 12 2013 01:39 PM

Could you have him on with Joel? I think we would all get a better picture. Maybe LL wants to take a drive to Polyface Farm?

Apr. 12 2013 01:30 PM

It is quite logical that the topic of fertilizer is the last segment of the show dedicated to food.

Does not everybody know what fertilizer is made of?

Apr. 12 2013 12:45 PM

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