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Synthetic Fertilizer – Where it Comes From and What it Does and Doesn’t Do

By   /  January 25, 2021  /  2 Comments

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This week John Marble writes about the economics of adding fertilizer to pastures, so we thought it
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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Luke Jessup says:

    Quit dispelling all my long formed opinions and biases! Next you’ll be telling us women can be farmers.

  2. Richard Moyer says:

    Kathy, Thanks again for equipping us to plan and respond with fact-based info, over emotions.

    Moving forward, could you share (again?) economic comparisons of establishing legumes, frost-seeding or other? Versus buying and spreading nitrogen?
    Sid Bosworth’s article, which you link above, asks us what could work well on which parts of our farms.

    Thanks for Victor Shelton’s advice on frost seeding; he writes in a manner that encourages me to get out and do it each year!

    NRCS folks walking my farm say that when I reach 30% dry matter from clovers, I will see little to no benefit from spreading nitrogen. Bosworth does the same.

    All the way across the country from John Marble, I, too graze marginal soils. Where I can frost-seed pastures by hand. Some too rocky or steep to spread nitrogen.

    In our mid-Atlantic soils, I’ve been told repeatedly that lime is the cheapest “fertilizer”. That when soil pH is in the proper range, so much else works in concert to increase pasture diversity and productivity. And that once we get to that range, we can stay there multiple years without more application.

    There is an emotional appeal in understanding then applying sound, science-based principles. Thanks for helping us learn to improve, then maintain our own healthy pastures. Grazing ecosystems that depend more on targeted, limited use of purchased inputs. Well-managed, our animals, legumes and soil microbes can help us keep these nutrients cycling on our farms.

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