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  • Writer's pictureTravis Leicht

Fertilizers in the Gulf

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Dear Sarasota,

While the lush green lawns are a sight to behold, it's crucial to address the detrimental effects of excessive fertilizer application on both human health and our precious Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Here are the six most significant consequences that we must consider:

1. Algal Blooms:

  • Excessive fertilization leads to nutrient runoff into our waterways, including the Gulf of Mexico. This abundance of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, fuels the growth of harmful algal blooms. These blooms can release toxins that harm aquatic life, impact fisheries, and pose health risks to humans.

2. Water Pollution:

  • Fertilizer runoff contributes to water pollution. As these nutrients flow into local water bodies, they disrupt the natural balance, depleting oxygen levels and harming aquatic ecosystems. This can result in fish kills, shellfish contamination, and damage to the biodiversity of our coastal waters.

3. Coral Reef Damage:

  • The Gulf of Mexico boasts stunning coral reefs that support diverse marine life. Excess nutrients from fertilizers can cause coral bleaching and weaken the resilience of these ecosystems, threatening the health of our marine environment.

4. Harm to Aquatic Life:

  • Nutrient-rich runoff degrades the quality of water habitats. Fish and other aquatic species suffer from reduced oxygen levels and habitat degradation, affecting not only their populations but also the livelihoods of local fishermen and the recreational value of our waterways.

5. Human Health Risks:

  • The toxins produced by algal blooms can contaminate seafood, posing health risks to those who consume it. Additionally, polluted water can lead to skin irritations and gastrointestinal issues for swimmers and beachgoers.

6. Soil and Groundwater Contamination:

  • Excessive fertilization can lead to nutrient imbalances in soil, negatively affecting plant health. Furthermore, nitrate leaching from fertilized soil can contaminate groundwater, posing long-term risks to our drinking water sources.

To address these issues, it's crucial for us, as residents of Sarasota, to adopt responsible lawn care practices. This we could be replacing traditional fertilizers with compost tea. At the very least, we ought to be more closely following recommended fertilizer application rates, avoiding overuse, and ensuring proper timing of application. Supporting local efforts to manage nutrient runoff, such as through stormwater management projects and community education, can also make a substantial difference in protecting our health and the Gulf of Mexico.

By working together to reduce the harmful effects of excessive fertilizer application, we can preserve the beauty of Sarasota's natural environment, support a sustainable future, and safeguard our health and the health of our Gulf.


Your Tree (and Tea!) Guys

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