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Worms Produce Another Kind of Gold for Farmers: Replacing Chemical Fertilizers with Vermicompost

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page, Organic Transitions page.

 We're living in an era where the largest food producers in the United States operate more like factories than farms, complete with industrial farming practices that produce obscene amounts of waste and threaten to completely deplete what was once rich and fertile soil.

With each harvest, the land is stripped of vital nutrients plants need to grow, and so synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals are added back into the land out of necessity.

The Problem with Synthetic and Other Toxic Fertilizers

There are problems with trying to synthetically fertilize the land, as restoring soil to its original grandeur - a complex ecosystem teeming with microbes and nutrients - is not as simple as adding back in various concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK, a common synthetic fertilizer).

Aside from often leading to imbalances in the soil that can harm plant growth, synthetic fertilizers contribute to environmental contamination, and there is even concern that the natural deposits of phosphorus and potassium - two elements necessary for plants to grow - are being rapidly depleted.1

Sewage sludge, or "biosolids" - as they're referred to with a PR spin - is another type of fertilizer that began being "recycled" into food crops when, ironically, it was realized that dumping them into rivers, lakes and bays was an environmental disaster. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that about 50 percent of all biosolids are recycled to land.2 This sludge is what's leftover after sewage is treated and processed. 

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