As fertilizer contains both nitrogen and phosphorus, it can cause negative effects on the environment. Rainwater acts as a vehicle for carrying fertilizer from the place of application and depositing it as a pollutant into rivers and lakes, ultimately contaminating both the ground and air.
Often, crops cannot absorb all the nutrients from fertilizer, forcing the excess into the air and water. This loss also affects farmers’ profitability as they spend more and more on fertilizer.
The presence of nitrogen fertilizers in water encourages algae blooms, both toxic and non-toxic, which deplete oxygen and reduce light penetration in water. This in turn promotes the growth of weeds and negatively affects aquatic life.
When algae populations get too large, their resulting death reduces oxygen in the water, suffocates fish and creates dead zones in the oceans.
Nitrogen in fertilizer filters into groundwater, thus ending up in drinking water. In the human body, nitrogen becomes nitrate, which inhibits the movement of oxygen through the body.
Unabsorbed nitrogen from fertilizer can also leach into the air, contributing to greenhouse gases and air pollution.