Understanding Glyphosate Toxicity: An Interview with Genetic Engineer Thierry Vrain

Print

Permaculture is for everyone.

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops are engineered to be herbicide tolerant, specifically when sprayed with Roundup. Now that the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has designated Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” consumers need to fully understand how the chemical works on plants and, in turn, impacts human health. For in-depth answers about glyphosate’s toxicity and more, we turned to molecular biologist and retired genetic engineer Thierry Vrain.

MOTHER Earth: When and why did you start researching glyphosate?

Thierry Vrain: I went to graduate school in North Carolina in the 1970s, where I was trained as a soil biologist — a nematologist, to be precise. Nematodes are microscopic worms in the soil that feed on the roots of plants and cause considerable yield loss for many types of crops. In school, I learned about agriculture and the damage caused by all sorts of pests and pathogens, such as nematodes, insects, and fungal diseases. I learned to deal with those pests by sterilizing soil or spraying pesticides. Halfway through my career, it became obvious that perhaps we could intervene at the molecular level to make crops naturally resistant to pests, so I learned molecular biology and became a genetic engineer. When I became head of a molecular biology department, I took it as my responsibility to educate people and try to assuage their fears about genetic engineering.

I retired 12 years ago and started gardening as a serious hobby. After gaining that hands-on experience, I realized how much damage pesticides cause to the living environment of the soil. I learned all sorts of things that I wasn’t taught in graduate school. For example, I learned that not only pesticides, but also regular fertilizers damage communities of microorganisms in soil. I became “organic,” so to speak.

At this point, I started reading scientific research showing a problem with genetic engineering. Rats and mice fed genetically engineered, Roundup Ready grain were getting sick. At first I couldn’t figure it out. My knowledge of the engineering technology made it clear to me that this should be safe. As I explain in my TEDx talk, “The Gene Revolution, the Future of Agriculture,” I couldn’t understand why adding a gene from one species to another could be toxic because this DNA technology is used every day in many research labs around the world to create a variety of transgenic animals and plants, to study their biology, and to advance various fields of knowledge. Only two years ago did I realize that the problem lies not with genetic engineering technology itself, but with the herbicide that’s sprayed on all Roundup Ready crops. Again, I took it as my responsibility to educate people.

MOTHER: When was this herbicide invented, and for what purpose?

Vrain: Roundup is the herbicide in question, and its active ingredient is glyphosate. Glyphosate is a very small molecule, an analog of glycine, which is one of the 20 amino acids that make up all proteins of all living organisms. This molecule was invented in the 1950s and patented in 1964 by Stauffer Chemical Co. in the United States. Stauffer Chemical was in the business of selling products that could clean mineral deposits off industrial pipes and boilers. Think of your electric kettle at home. After boiling water repeatedly over the course of a few months, you can see whitish mineral deposits on the walls of your kettle. Industries that use boiling water all the time must chemically remove the deposits every so often. The deposits are called “scales,” and the chemicals that remove them are called “descaling agents.” Glyphosate was invented as a descaling agent because it binds to all sorts of minerals and makes them unreactive, stripping them from the pipes. In biology and chemistry, we call this type of agent a “chelator,” and the binding of minerals is called “chelating.”

Somebody promptly figured out that glyphosate kills all bacteria and plants, and that there’s a lot more money to be made using this chemical as an herbicide rather than as a descaling agent. That’s when the chemical corporation Monsanto bought the rights to the molecule and patented it in 1969 as a nonselective herbicide.

MOTHER Earth: How does glyphosate’s chelating ability affect the way it interacts with plants?

Vrain: Unlike animals and humans, bacteria and plants make their own proteins because they’re capable of synthesizing all 20 amino acids required as the building blocks of proteins. Bacteria and plants make three complex amino acids (we call them “aromatic amino acids”) in a small biochemical pathway called the “Shikimate Pathway.” One of the enzymes of that pathway is called “EPSPS” for short. EPSPS is a protein with an atom of manganese that must be there for it to function properly.

As a descaling agent, glyphosate enters the bacterial or plant cells and steals the atom of manganese from the EPSPS enzyme, rendering it unable to synthesize aromatic amino acids. If some of these building blocks are missing, the bacteria and plants can’t synthesize the proteins, and they promptly die.

MOTHER: How heavily is glyphosate used in the United States?

Vrain: When molecular biology and genetic engineering technologies became mainstream in the 1980s, somebody figured out they could engineer agricultural crops to be glyphosate resistant. When we engineer crops to be glyphosate-resistant, farmers can spray them with the herbicide and they’ll survive, even while the unwanted surrounding plants — the weeds — ultimately perish.

A handful of major crops are now glyphosate-resistant. Developers have trademarked them as “Roundup Ready.” The technology has revolutionized weed management in industrial agriculture. In 2013, farmers in the United States used glyphosate-resistant soybeans on 93 percent of all planted soybean acreage, corn on 85 percent of all corn acreage, and cotton on 82 percent of all cotton acreage. These glyphosate-resistant crops are usually sprayed twice at the beginning of the crop cycle with three-fourths to 1-1⁄2 pounds (depending on plant height) per acre. In recent years, many species of weeds have adapted and become resistant, requiring higher and higher dosages of glyphosate to be killed.

The use of glyphosate for chemical drying of non-engineered grain and seed crops has also grown exponentially in the past 15 years. This is not widely known. Some farmers who grow grains and seeds (such as cereals, beans, sunflowers, and hemp) now commonly spray a formulation of glyphosate to kill their crops just before harvest. This process also kills any weeds that might have popped up during the growth of the crop. This is called “chemical drying” or “dessication.” It makes for a much easier harvest of grains and seeds.

MOTHER Earth: What are the current allowable amounts of glyphosate in food and water, and how do they compare to the levels at which scientists are detecting harmful effects?

Vrain: We know very little about the residual amounts of glyphosate in food crops for human and animal consumption. Most other pesticides and herbicides are closely monitored by government agencies in Canada and the United States, but for some reason glyphosate residues have not been monitored closely. What we do know is that the legal levels allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Health Canada have increased significantly in the past few years — presumably to accommodate the new reality. The allowable levels are now well above parts per million (ppm). Every single crop has allowable levels: sugar at 10 ppm, soybean and canola at 20 ppm, cereals at 30 ppm, nongrass animal feed at 400 ppm. Residue levels that were once considered extreme are now seen as normal.

A large number of published scientific studies — mostly done outside the United States — show that as little as 1 ppm of glyphosate will kill almost all bacteria — particularly beneficial bacteria — in the gut of animals; that endocrine disruption starts at 0.5 ppm; and that even just a few ppm can cause oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, DNA damage, and many other disruptions in mammalian organ cells and tissues. Last year, the World Health Organization asked an international team of 17 senior toxicologists from 11 countries to review the status of several agricultural chemicals, including glyphosate. Their verdict regarding glyphosate’s toxicity was that the scientific literature contains enough convincing evidence to classify it as a probable carcinogen.

MOTHER Earth: Monsanto, the company that owned the glyphosate patent, claims that humans can digest glyphosate in our food and water and it won’t accumulate in our bodies. Is this true?

Vrain: Recent scientific studies clearly show that glyphosate doesn’t degrade easily in soil or in humans and animals. A German study suggests that glyphosate accumulates in all organs (liver, kidneys, intestines, heart, lungs, bones, and so on) of animals and people eating food products made from Roundup Ready crops.

Monsanto and the North American government regulatory agencies have promoted glyphosate as the safest herbicide for 40 years. It was assumed at the time of its registration that it couldn’t affect animals because the Shikimate Pathway (where it impairs protein synthesis) is present in plants and bacteria but not in animals. However, the past 10 years have brought enormous progress in our understanding of the pre-eminent role of the microbiome in animal physiology. In humans, it turns out that the 100 trillion bacterial cells that live in our intestines — and that do contain the Shikimate Pathway — play an absolutely essential role in the health of most of our organs.

MOTHER Earth: We were surprised to learn that glyphosate is also patented as an antibiotic. What are the effects this has on human health and the soil food web?

Vrain: We’ve known for decades that glyphosate is a powerful antibiotic, but it was only patented as one in 2010. I call glyphosate an antibiotic masquerading as an herbicide. Aside from its function as an endocrine disrupter and the multitude of other documented nefarious effects it has on human physiology, I think the most immediate concern about glyphosate’s toxicity is its damaging effect on the human microbiome.

I don’t remember seeing much research on the effects of glyphosate in the soil environment, other than the usual industry-sponsored (and reassuring) results. Plenty of anecdotal evidence, however, shows that damaging soil microbiology leads to slow desertification.

MOTHER Earth: How do you recommend we move forward to prevent this toxic herbicide from causing any more damage?

Vrain: Roundup has become the most successful agricultural chemical in the past 40 years. It’s extremely useful in all kinds of weed-management applications. Because it was originally labeled as innocuous to humans and animals, Roundup has been heavily used, and it’s time to reconsider its place in the market. In light of glyphosate’s toxicity, we must strictly regulate the use of the herbicide Roundup, abandon chemical drying of grain and seed crops, and recall Roundup Ready technology.

How to Avoid Glyphosate

If you’re concerned about glyphosate toxicity, you can follow some basic guidelines when sourcing your food. Steer clear of processed foods and buy ingredients that are either clearly labeledUSDA Certified Organic” or come from a trusted local grower who doesn’t use herbicides. Certified Organic crops can’t be sprayed with glyphosate at any stage of the growing, harvesting, or drying processes, and none of the ingredients in USDA Certified Organic foods are allowed to be genetically engineered. The USDA Certified Organic standards for meat, eggs, and dairy require that livestock are fed 100-percent-organic feed and forage.

OH Man!!!

Print

Permaculture is for everyone.

OH Man! We all have had that oh man moment. Just don’t let it get you. One week after pickling over a gallon of pickles, deer demolished my cucumbers and strawberries. The strawberries will come back, but I had no choice but to rip out the cucumber vines and start over. We’ve stared to leave our dog out side at night to frighten off any more unwelcome guest. I reseeded my cucumbers, so hopefully I’ll have cucumbers again soon.

Financial Term of the Day: Underground Economy.

art-blog-city-freedom-illustration-Favim.com-303211

Freedom lives here.

DEFINITION of ‘Underground Economy’

The underground economy refers to illegal economic activity. Transactions in the underground economy are illegal either because the good or service being traded is itself illegal or because an otherwise licit transaction does not comply with government reporting requirements. The first category includes drugs and prostitution in most jurisdictions. The second includes untaxed labor and sales, as well as smuggling goods to avoid duties. The underground economy is also referred to as the shadow economy, black market (not gray market) and informal economy.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Underground Economy’

Measuring the Underground Economy

It is difficult to gauge the size of underground economies, because they are by nature not subject to government oversight and do not generate tax returns or show up in official statistics. Discrepancies in these statistics can indicate the approximate size of informal economies, however. For example, national income and national expenditure would in theory be identical, if every transaction were fully visible to the people compiling the data. In practice, though, expenditures exceed income, because income from an illegal transaction will not appear in the data, but that money will show up in expenditures when it is used in a legal transaction. Along the same lines, if electricity consumption grows faster than GDP, it might suggest that the underground economy is growing at the formal economy’s expense.

According to estimates by Friedrich Schneider, the American underground economy was about 8% of GDP, or $1 trillion, in 2009. By 2013, largely due to the financial crisis and resulting contraction of the formal economy, the amount had reached $2 trillion, according to Edgar Feige. The share of America’s underground economy is relatively small. The OECD average, according to Schneider, was around 20% from 1999 to 2010. France’s was closer to 15%, Mexico’s to 30%. On the other hand, as with formal economies, underground economies are not hermetically sealed. Demand for narcotics in the U.S., for example, fuels much of the underground economy in Mexico and elsewhere.

Effects

The underground economy can be benign or harmful, depending on the perspective and economic context. In developing countries, the share of the informal economy is relatively large, at around 36% in 2002-2003, according to Schneider, as opposed to around 13% for developed countries. On the one hand, this is bad for developing-country governments, which forgo tax revenue on a large share of transactions. That in turn is bad for citizens, including participants in the informal economy, which do not enjoy quality government services.

On the other hand, keeping income that might otherwise be taxed can benefit participants in the underground economy and boost economic activity overall through added demand. That is especially true if tax revenues would just be siphoned off by corrupt officials rather than funding the government – another aspect of the underground economy.

Activities and Participants

A huge array of activities falls under the label “underground economy,” and the list varies depending on the laws of a given jurisdiction. In some countries, alcohol is banned, while in others brewers, distillers and distributors operate openly. Drugs are illegal in most places, but some U.S. states and a few countries have made the selling cannabis legal. Tobacco is legal in New York City, but steep sin taxes mean that perhaps 60% of cigarettes in the city are sold illegally, as part of the underground economy. Forced labor, the sex trade (where illegal) and human trafficking are part of the underground economy. Black markets exist for copyrighted material, endangered animals, products subject to sanctions or tariffs, antiquities and organs. In addition, anyone who makes taxable income they do not then report to the tax authorities – even if it’s $50 for babysitting – is technically participating in the underground economy.

Participants in underground economies are a diverse bunch as well. They include unregistered, untaxed food vendors on street corners. If a police officer accepts bribes to allow those vendors to do business, the officer is then part of the underground economy. So are elephant poachers, meth dealers, undocumented workers, government ministers who hoard stolen cash in tax havens, entrepreneurs who sell subsidized fuel across borders, graphic designers or handymen who do side-gigs for cash, servers who underreport tips, and people-smugglers who ship refugees and migrants across borders.

Read more: Underground Economy Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/u/underground-economy.asp#ixzz4B1azmwh7
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

Peak Oil

Design your world.

DEFINITION of ‘Peak Oil’
A hypothetical date referring to the world’s peak crude oil production, whereby following this day, production rates will begin to diminish. This concept is derived from geophysicist Marion King Hubbert’s “peak theory”, which proclaims that oil production follows a bell-shaped curve.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Peak Oil’

Because oil is a non-replenishing resource, there is a limit to how much the world can extract and refine. Peak oil is the day that oil production reaches a maximum and will subsequently begin to decline until full depletion is ultimately reached.

Read more: Peak Oil Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/peak_oil.asp#ixzz4AXMffxLp
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

Physical Capital

Design your world.

DEFINITION of ‘Physical Capital’

Physical capital is one of the three main factors of production in economic theory. It consists of man made goods that assist in the production process, like machinery, office supplies, transportation and computers.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Physical Capital’

In economic theory, factors of production are the inputs needed to engage in the production of goods or services in pursuit of profit. Economists have sometimes disagreed about the exact contours of each category, but there are generally said to be three main factors of production:

  • Land or natural resources: This is both the land on which factories, shipping facilities or stores are built and the natural resources of a production process, like the corn needed to make tortilla chips or the iron ore which is used to make steel.
  • Human capital: This includes labor as well as other resources that humans can provide – education, experience or unique skills – which contribute to the production process.
  • Physical capital: Manmade goods which enable the production process, like machinery, buildings, computers and other goods needed for the production process to run smoothly.

New or startup companies have to invest in physical capital early in their lifecycle, often before they have produced a single good or landed a single client. This can have many different applications. For example, a company that manufactures microwave ovens will have to make a series of investments before it can expect to sell a single microwave; it must build a factory, purchase the machinery it needs to manufacture the product and it must manufacture some sample microwaves before convincing any stores to carry their product.

The accumulation of physical capital with established firms can make the investment required to catch up a major barrier to entry for new companies, especially in manufacturing-intensive industries. The diversification of physical capital is a good way to judge how diversified a particular industry is. From the perspective of physical capital, starting a new law firm is much easier than opening a new manufacturing plant – theoretically, an attorney would only need an office, a phone and a computer. Consequently, law firms outnumber steel manufacturers by a significant margin.

It has long been agreed that physical capital is an important consideration in a company’s valuation, but it is also one of the most difficult assets to evaluate. It is considered fixed capital, which is appropriate in that something like manufacturing machinery has long-term value and is relatively illiquid, since it is usually only designed to fulfill a particular purpose. On the other hand, the value of physical capital can change over the years, or can increase in value with upgrades to the asset itself or with changes to the firm that affect its value.

Read more: Physical Capital Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/physical-capital.asp#ixzz4AS7GB4m5
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

 

Build Better Garden Soil With Free Organic Fertilizers!

Print

Permaculture is for everyone.

The information in this article was reviewed and updated in January 2015. —MOTHER EARTH NEWS

As more and more people recognize the many benefits of organic gardening methods, a fresh crop of organic fertilizers are sprouting on store shelves. Many are overpriced, and some are stunning rip-offs that reputable stores and catalogs should be ashamed to sell. The really amazing thing is that two of the best organic fertilizers are easily available to most of us absolutely free! (See below) It’s definitely a buyer-beware world out there. If you’re not careful, you could pay five, 10 or 4,000 times more than necessary to get the nitrogen and other nutrients you need. Here’s what we found when we evaluated the pricing for 21 fertilizers:

The Best Free Fertilizers

All products labeled as “fertilizer” must be labeled with their content of the three major plant nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (N-P-K). Most organic fertilizers are bulkier than synthetic chemical products, so their N-P-K percentages are typically lower than synthetic products, and their application rates are higher.

Also, because organic products are biologically active, their N-P-K numbers may change somewhat from batch to batch and over time. Because of this, it can be hard for producers to comply with the labeling laws. As a result, some excellent organic fertilizer options, such as compost, often are not even labeled as a “fertilizer.” One of the best free fertilizers, grass clippings, break down so quickly that they can’t be bagged and sold.

But make no mistake, compost and grass clippings do what fertilizers are supposed to do: They enrich the garden soil with nutrients that plants and microscopic soil life-forms are eager to use. In most areas, you can easily collect grass clippings from your neighborhood, bagged and set out ready to bring home. And many communities make yardwaste compost (made mainly from grass clippings and leaves) available for free.

So, if you can get free clippings or compost, how much should you use? Here are guidelines prepared with help from soil scientists at Woods End Laboratory in Maine.

Grass Clippings: Just Half an Inch Will Do!

Grass clippings are one of the best organic fertilizers. Not only because it’s easy to find free local sources, but also because the clippings do double duty preventing weeds and conserving garden soil moisture when used as mulch — two things other fertilizers cannot do. Nitrogen content of clippings will vary, with fresh grass collected in spring from fertilized lawns topping 5 percent nitrogen, while clippings from later in the year or from unfertilized lawns will likely contain around 2 percent nitrogen. (Be sure to avoid clippings from those “perfect” lawns that have been treated with herbicides.)

In most regions just a half-inch of fresh clippings each spring — that’s about six 5-gallon buckets per 100 square feet — mixed into your garden soil, or a 1- to 2-inch layer used as a surface mulch, will provide all the nutrients most crops need for a full season of growth.

Get Compost: The More, The Better

You can make compost from your yard, garden and kitchen wastes, but if you have a large garden, you’ll probably want more compost than you can make from your own yard. Many communities offer free yard waste compost, or you can look for compost made by local farmers at Local Harvest (for more specific advice about composting, check out Compost Made Easy).

Compost is a bulky fertilizer that typically contains about 1 percent nitrogen (composted manure is closer to 3 percent nitrogen), but one of its advantages is that it releases nutrients very slowly, over a period of years rather than weeks or months. All the while, many strains of fungi and bacteria introduced to the soil from the compost form partnerships with plant roots, helping them to absorb or actually manufacture more nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients. Compost also helps garden soil hold more moisture.

Each time a crop is finished, spread a half-inch layer of compost over the soil.  Twice that much is better, but even a scant quarter-inch blanket of compost will help maintain your garden soil’s fertility.

Use Mulches and Plant Cover Crops

The soil’s ability to hold onto nutrients increases as your soil’s organic matter content increases. Organic matter also plays a role in suppressing soilborne diseases while helping to retain soil moisture. Using mulches of shredded leaves, old hay and grass clippings will help boost your soil’s organic matter content as the mulches slowly decompose into compost. Cover crops planted during periods when you are not growing food crops also help increase the soil’s fertility.

After three years of regularly adding compost and mulches, the soil’s organic matter content will increase by several percent. Just 3 percent organic matter translates to a nitrogen-holding capacity of more than 3 pounds of nitrogen per 100 square feet. About 15 percent of that nitrogen (about 0.4 pounds) is available to plants in any given year, because it is released slowly, as the organic matter decomposes. Use nitrogen-rich grass clippings as mulch, and you’ll have plenty of available nitrogen and other nutrients to meet the needs of most garden crops!

When to Add Extra

A survey of soil testing labs across the United States revealed that garden soils have too much fertilizer more often than too little. Adding too much can be just as bad for your crops as not applying enough. (A soil test every few years is a good idea.) If you apply grass clippings and/or compost according to the guidelines above, you will only need to use more concentrated — and costly — organic fertilizers in a few special circumstances. When you start with a balanced soil (a soil test will tell you this) and apply grass clippings, compost and mulches regularly, necessary nutrients usually will be replenished in the correct proportions.

If fertilizers sold in bags or bottles are easier for you to use than grass clippings or compost, nitrogen is the nutrient to use to guide your application rate, because it is the nutrient most likely to be depleted as you harvest your crops each season. Plants need the right amount of nitrogen to grow new stems, leaves and other parts. If they don’t get enough, they stay small and spindly, and never come close to their productive potential. If they get too much, they grow into huge plants that produce way behind schedule.

To complicate matters, if your soil doesn’t get regular additions of compost or organic mulches, it will have trouble holding on to the nitrogen you add. Nitrogen is a slippery nutrient, prone to volatilizing into thin air or washing away (that’s one of the reasons organic matter that holds nitrogen is so helpful). For most crops, you should replenish nitrogen to the tune of about one-third pound per 100 square feet of growing space each season. See the “How to Compare Fertilizer Prices” below, to find the best buys and avoid overpriced products.

There are also some situations when even gardeners with high levels of soil organic matter may want to apply supplemental fertilizers. Usually the reasons have to do with time and temperature.

In spring and fall, when soil temperatures are low, the biological processes that release nutrients from organic matter slow to a crawl. A fertilizer that quickly releases nitrogen (such as fish emulsion or blood meal) helps support strong, early growth of hungry cool-weather crops. Before planting big brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage and kale, and to help spring peas get off to a strong start, mix a half ration of one of these products into the soil before planting.

Tomatoes, peppers and other crops that stay in the ground all summer sometimes exhaust the soil’s supply of available nutrients by midsummer, just when they need it most. When the plants load up with fruit, you can prevent temporary shortfalls by mixing a light application of fertilizer into the top inch of soil over the plants’ root zones, topped off by a fresh helping of grass clippings for mulch. This “side dressing” of fertilizer and mulch work together to keep the plants productive longer.

Seedlings started indoors often benefit from light feeding starting two to three weeks after the seeds sprout. By then, they have used up food reserves provided by the seed, yet they are not free to forage for nutrients beyond the confines of their containers. A half ration of fish-based fertilizer, mixed into room temperature water, helps satisfy their nutrient needs until they are ready to be transplanted outdoors. You can also use a drenching of fish fertilizer to help wake up overwintered spinach, which usually is ready to produce a fine flush of leaves before the soil is warm enough to release its precious nutrients.

Sweet corn is famous for its need for nitrogen, and one crop can take a big bite from your soil’s nitrogen supply. To be sure your plants don’t run short of nitrogen, you have three options: 1) You could mix in a concentrated organic fertilizer before you plant, and then side dress with more as the plants grow. 2) You could precede the corn with a winter cover crop of hairy vetch, alfalfa or another nitrogen-fixing legume. When the plants are chopped down in late spring, just as they begin to bloom, the roots left behind in the soil will release enough nitrogen to get sweet corn off to a good start. More will become available as the surface mulch decomposes into organic matter. 3) Your best bet, if you can manage it, is to apply compost annually. In a three year study done at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a 1-inch layer of leaf compost applied to soil only once a year made it possible to reduce the fertilizer sweet corn needed by half.

Weigh Your Options

If you decide to buy an organic fertilizer, use this chart to estimate how much nitrogen you are getting for your money, keeping in mind that the best deals come in big packages.

Manure-based products are usually composted or processed to reduce odors, and you often can find high-quality manure-based fertilizers produced in your area that don’t carry environmental baggage from long-distance shipping.

You can fertilize your garden soil with alfalfa, soy, cottonseed or another plant meal by itself, or use a blended meal-based product. Meal-based fertilizers often include 12 or more ingredients to balance fast-release nitrogen sources such as meat, fish, alfalfa or cottonseed meal with other minerals and micronutrients. These fertilizers often are less bulky compared to manure-based products, and most provide a broad array of nutrients.

Finally, we must mention products that have been dressed up with microbes, enzymes, humic acids and other substances. These extras might be helpful if you are trying to bring dead soil to life, but in a garden that is well-nourished with compost and organic mulches, they are a waste of time and money. Microbes come along for free in compost, and earthworms never charge a cent for producing enzymes and humic acids. The diverse soil life beneath your feet produces everything your crops need; all you need to do is feed it what it wants — a steady diet of organic matter.


How to Compare Fertilizer Prices

Nitrogen is a major nutrient that is likely to become deficient in garden soils, so we used it to compare prices. The prices for blended organic fertilizers sold in garden stores and home improvement centers tend to cost more than a bag of soy or alfalfa meal at a farm supply store. Also, dry fertilizers are almost always a much better buy per pound of nitrogen than liquid products.

FREE Fertilizers
Grass clippings, 2 to 5 percent nitrogen
Yard waste compost, 1 to 4 percent nitrogen

Dry Fertilizers

Blended Fertilizers

Liquid Fertilizers

You can put various products to the test using this simple equation:

1. Multiply the retail price, let’s say $8.95, by 100, which gives you 895.
2. Multiply the weight of the package, say 10 pounds, by the percentage of nitrogen (often about 5 percent), which gives you 50. The percentage of nitrogen is the first number in the product’s “guaranteed analysis.” For example, the “5” in “5-3-2.”
3. Divide the first number (price X 100 = 895) by the second one (weight X nitrogen content = 50). This is the cost per pound — $17.90 — of the nitrogen in the fertilizer.

Law Of Demand

art-blog-city-freedom-illustration-Favim.com-303211

Freedom lives here.

What is the ‘Law Of Demand’

The law of demand is a microeconomic law that states, all other factors being equal, as the price of a good or service increases, consumer demand for the good or service will decrease, and vice versa. The law of demand says that the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded, because consumers’ opportunity cost to acquire that good or service increases, and they must make more tradeoffs to acquire the more expensive product.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Law Of Demand’

The chart below depicts the law of demand using a demand curve, which is always downward sloping. Each point on the curve (A, B, C) reflects a direct correlation between quantity demanded (Q) and price (P). So, at point A, the quantity demanded will be Q1 and the price will be P1, and so on.

Law Of Demand

The law of demand is so intuitive that you may not even be aware of all the examples around you.

-When shirts go on sale, you might buy three instead of one. The quantity that you demand increases because the price has fallen.

-When plane tickets become more expensive, you’re less likely to travel by air and more likely to choose the less expensive options of driving or staying home. The amount of plane tickets that you demand decreases to zero because the cost has gone up.

The law of demand summarizes the effect price changes have on consumer behavior. For example, a consumer will purchase more pizzas if the price of pizza falls. The opposite is true if the price of pizza increases. John might demand 10 pizzas if they cost $10 each, but only 7 pizzas if the price rises to $12, and only 4 pizzas if the price rises to $20.

The law of demand is one of the most fundamental concepts in economics. It works with the law of supply to explain how market economies allocate resources and determine the prices of goods and services.

Read more: Law Of Demand Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lawofdemand.asp#ixzz4AGkbQELC
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook