29 June 2019

What Sources of Fertilisers are Used?

Author/Compiled by
Katharina Conradin (seecon international gmbh)
Michael Kropac (seecon international gmbh)
Dorothee Spuhler (seecon international gmbh)


What Sources of Nutrients are Used?

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Up to now, we have primarily focused on the water cycle. But what about the nutrient cycle that is so closely linked to the water cycle? In order to add this information to your analysis, try to answer the following questions and add the findings to your drawing:

  • Is fertiliser used in agriculture/gardening in your area?
  • Is artificial or organic fertiliser used? How high is the consumption? Is fertiliser affordable for all?
  • What happens with organic waste?


Where to get further information: Farmers’ associations or agricultural research institutes (agricultural university etc.) may help you to answer this question. In regard to solid waste management, the city’s administration should be able to help you.

Interlinkages: How does the use of fertiliser influence other areas of the water and nutrient cycle? Overuse (of both organic and artificial fertilisers) may lead to water pollution through runoff. A high consumption of artificial fertiliser may for instance decrease the demand for organic fertiliser - which other interlinkages can you identify for your area?

The Case of  Unsustainaville

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Nutrient Management in Unsustainaville

Unsustainaville - Nutrient Management. Source: SEECON (2010)
Unsustainaville - Nutrient Management. Source: SEECON (2010)


To put it simply - Unsustainaville does not practice any reuse of treated wastewater. Treated wastewater is also not used to recharge groundwater sources. It is simply discharged into the river.


Problems with Nutrient Management in Unsustainaville

Unsustainaville - Problems with Nutrient Management. Source: SEECON (2010)
Unsustainaville - Problems with Nutrient Management. Source: SEECON (2010)


The fact that there is no management of nutrients at all leads to the following problems:

  • As nutrients present in wastewater are not recycled, the farmers have to buy artificial fertiliser at world market prices to maintain their yields. 
  • On the other side, local water bodies are frequently eutrophicated, be it from the discharge or untreated wastweater, or from the runoff of artificial fertilisers from the fields.
  • The river, where Unsustainaville and the people living further downstream get their water from is heavily polluted and eutrophicated.


Where do I find further information to tackle problems with nutrient management?


Previous and Next Step

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Go back to previous step -----> How is Wastewater Reused?

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