Fertilizer increases plant growth and crop yields but often contains toxic compounds harmful to people, wildlife and plants. According to SFGate.com, synthetic fertilizers leach into reservoirs or the local water table and cause serious health problems in young children, infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Fertilizer runoff also disturbs the critical algae balance crucial to aquatic food chains.
Another negative aspect of harsh chemical fertilizers is their contribution to insect and invasive plant immunity. Weeds and pests develop resistance to these fertilizers, eventually rendering them ineffective. This leads to the development of harsher fertilizers with an even greater potential for environmental harm. San Francisco Gate columnist Rachel Delp explains that between 1950 and the early 2000s, insect and plant resistance to fertilizers and pesticides increased fivefold.
Fertilizers also offer considerable agricultural and economic advantages. Increased crop yields and reduced farming costs increase farmers' profit margins and lower the retail price of crops and processed foods. Plentiful harvests also increase the amount of food available in needy areas and reduce the risks of starvation and malnutrition.
One of the most important reasons for the popularity of synthetic chemical fertilizers is their rapid response time. These products begin working immediately and produce noticeable results in a short time. Safe, natural fertilizers such as manure require much more time to work.