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
DEAR NEW FARM:
I would like to bring to your attention 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."
Technological Education Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece
Dept. of Plant Production
us with comments, suggestions and questions.