Ecosystems: Working with farmers to decrease Nitrogen pollution

Consider this dilemma: In this bag is something
we need to feed the world. But when we have too much, it contaminates drinking water,
pollutes the air, and kills millions of fish. Hi, I’m Suzy Friedman, and I work on Environmental
Defense Fund’s partnerships with farmers to protect the environment. I’m talking about nitrogen fertilizer. Farmers
need it to grow healthy crops – the problem is it’s hard to know how much to use.
Plants use nitrogen for fuel, sort of like a tractor uses gas. Now, no farmer would leave
the gas pumping without an automatic shutoff – think of the waste and damage if the tank
overflows. But with nitrogen there’s no automatic shutoff.
Plants can only absorb so much, and it’s hard to get the right amount to just the right
place when they need it. The excess runs off, contaminating drinking
water, causing algae blooms that kill fish, and even polluting the air and affecting the
climate. But with too little fertilizer, we couldn’t
grow all the food the world needs. What’s a farmer to do? We put our minds to it at Environmental Defense
Fund, and here’s what we’re recommending: First, low-cost soil and plant tests give
farmers much better information about how much nitrogen their crops need. And second, by putting grasses, and trees
and wetlands in the right spots, farmers can prevent nitrogen from becoming a big problem. Just listen to what one farmer has to say. Todd Hesterman: Working with Suzy to use just
the right amount of fertilizer to feed my crops has been good for my business and good
for the environment, too. So, farmers save money on fertilizer while
reducing pollution and feeding the world. Make sense? Voice over: Our thanks to the hundreds of
thousands of people like you whose donations to EDF make new solutions possible.

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