The harmful effects of chemical fertilisers and pesticides

Downfield Farm is an organic farm, committed to sustainable and ethical farming practises. Therefore, we never use chemical fertilisers or pesticides on our crops. These agrochemicals can be extremely damaging to the environment and our health.

Spraying agrochemicals on crops

Use of pesticides

Pesticides are a form of pest control which destroy insects, weeds and other pests. The chemical substances, which are usually sprayed on crops in the farming industry, include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and repellents.

These chemicals can damage the environment by contaminating the air, soil and water. Plus, they can harm non-target organisms, such as plants, fish, birds and beneficial insects like bees. Use of pesticides may also have harmful effects on human health, and long-term exposure can be linked to serious illness and disease.

Chemical fertilisers

Chemical fertilisers are substances that stimulate growth, which are applied to crops to boost their yield. Often containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compounds.

However, use of these chemicals can cause air and water pollution that is damaging to human health. If fertilisers contaminate water, eutrophication can occur. Encouraging excessive growth of algae and eventually bringing about reduced oxygen levels that can kill fish and other aquatic creatures. Use of fertilisers may also lead to acidification and mineral depletion in the soil, and chemical burn to crops.

So what can we do to help?

We can all help by opposing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and supporting sustainable, organic farming.

Organic farm produce in a wooden crate

As farmers, we can use natural alternatives to agrochemicals for maintaining soil fertility and dealing with pests and diseases. For example, using natural fertilisers such as animal manure and plant residues like seaweed, leaf mould and compost. And using natural pest control techniques such as good irrigation, barriers and screenings, companion planting and crop rotation. Find out about becoming an organic farm.

As consumers, we should all be checking where our food comes from. Buying organic and sustainable produce wherever possible, and supporting our local organic suppliers as much as we can. How to check if produce is genuinely organic.