In October, a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida asked for some guidence on reponding to his instructors dogmatic support of synthetic nitrogen (reader the letter). We responded with information from The Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial as well as a link to the organic research department at the U of Florida. Another reader has a research lead for Brad...



I would like to bring to your attention to a recent research article that highlights the problems with synthetic fertilizers and the importance of cover crops in soil fertility, in response to Brad's letter in your last newsletter:

"I am a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida and am taking a class on world agriculture. The instructor is very dogmatic about the use of synthetic nitrogen. I would appreciate any information you might have as well as other sources you can lead me to that I can use in this class to provide the other side of the argument."

The following article shows a possible mechanism on a molecular basis (at the gene expression level) with which organically derived soil fertility can enhance plant defenses and health, whereas synthetic fertilizers have the opposite effect: An alternative agriculture system is defined by a distinct expression profile of select gene transcripts and proteins, Kumar et. al. PNAS, July 20, 2004, vol. 101, no. 29, 10535-10540. I hope that this article will help that UF instructor reconsider his current synthetic N "dogma."

Christos Vasilikiotis, Ph.D.
Technological Education Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece
Dept. of Plant Production


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