A story in the BBC says nitrates from chemical fertilizers used by farms not only pollute the soil and water, but also rocks. The nitrates will eventually be released from the rocks into rivers and groundwaters. The nitrate is highest where chemical fertilizers are used, and increasing. This means we are underestimating the longterm nitrate pollution caused by using these chemicals.
Homeowners that use synthetic fertilizers are contributing significantly to this problem, too. Homeowners own most of the land in the US and use much more fertilizer per acre than farmers do.
As gardeners we can protect our drinking water by not using chemical fertilizers on our yards and gardens. But even compost and organic fertilizers can contribute to the nitrate load if we are not sensible.
Some tips for home gardeners:
-Don’t use synthetic chemicals on your yard and garden. They wind up in your water.
-Use lots of native plants that grow well without help in the soil in your area. Some good sources for native plant ideas are:
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
The Missouri Botanical Garden
Audubon Plants for Birds-pairs the plants with birds that they support, and attract!
-For turf, support soil health by aerating in the fall, leaving grass 4″ long cutting to 3″, and leaving the clippings to return nutrients to the soil.
-If you have a problem, measure the nutrients in the soil and only replete what is lacking.