10 Million Tons of Chemical Fertilizer Discharged into China's Water Every Year

Fertilizer Pollution Must Stop


When most people picture China as a polluting giant, the image of smoke-spewing coal plants comes to mind (that, and the statistic that a new coal-fired power plant opens every day in China). But the truth is that the majority of China's pollution comes from agriculture--and that the excessive use of chemical fertilizers have become a huge problem. A new report finds that Chinese farmers used a stunning 40% more fertilizer than necessary, resulting in 10 million tons being discharged into China's water. The report urges China to cut its fertilizer use by at least 50%.

According to Reuters, China is the world's top consumer of fertilizers--which makes sense, considering it's also the world's largest grain producer. In fact, China produced 24% of the world's grain, and consumed a staggering 35% of the world's fertilizer. To put that in perspective, since the 60s, grain production in China has increased eightfold. Nitrogen based fertilizer jump 55 times.

The result has been a major pollution problem for China's rivers and lakes. According to Reuters:

Chemical fertilizers had helped China, the world's most populous country, to feed its population despite limited farmland, but excessive application had led to low farmland efficiency and serious pollution, according to a research report issued by the [School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development, Renmin University of China] and Greenpeace on Thursday.

Hence, the report urged the government to reduce its reliance on chemical fertilizers by 50%, to reduce subsidies to fertilizer makers, and to increase support for farmers who use animal waste as fertilizer. Otherwise, things will get even uglier for China's already polluted rivers and lakes.

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