Letter: Cut Back On Use Of Nitrogen And Phosphorus

Editor’s note: The following letter is in regard to the article “Residents Complain About Weeds In Royal Palm Canals,” published last week. 

Uncontrolled weed and algal growth in all of the canals, rivers, lakes, lagoons and coastal waters is due to one thing and one thing only: excess primary plant nutrients. Namely, this is our excess use of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers. The need to grow greener lawns, perfect putting greens or an extra bushel of tomatoes per acre et cetera ad naseum fosters excessive fertilization. Add to this the uncontrolled regulation and, if regulated, then unenforced spreading and stockpiling of equestrian wastes (urine soaked bedding plus manure), and we reap what we sow; algal and subaquatic vegetation (SAV) blooms.

To control this problem, what do we do? Use toxic chemicals to kill the weeds. This then exacerbates the problem in several ways. First, we put non-natural chemicals into the environment, which interfere with cellular life processes. You and I have cells, too, you know! Second, the smell and floating weeds interfere with the enjoyment of waterways, as noted in the article cited above. Lastly, the plant/algal biomass that does not float sinks to the bottom. Both the floating, but especially the sunk biomass, undergoes aerobic degradation depleting the oxygen content (hypoxia to anoxia) of the water, and this can and does lead to fish kills. If the phosphorous pollution upsets the natural balance of nitrogen/phosphorous ratios, toxic cyanobacterial (aka blue-green algae) blooms can and do occur. Note the St. Lucie River just up the coast.

Get the causes, nutrient/chemical pollution, and you will not need to complain about the results. I thank you for your future considering of our environment, present and future.

Dr. J. William Louda
Loxahatchee Groves

Editor’s note: Dr. Louda is a senior scientist and professor of environmental chemistry at Florida Atlantic University.


    • This will be my last post regarding this topic. This editor -at-conttituional yadda yadda should havethe courage of his convictions to use his real name (Frank Morelli).

      Global warming, as part of the overall phenomenon termed climate change, is a scientific fact. Never before (except for the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum aka PETM, caused by a worldwide emission of methane related to palte tectonics) has a strong cooling trend in the Milankovitch cycles, as earth was in up to the industial revolution, been reversed. The nay sayers also do not want to talk about the change in the rate of the change (2nd derivative). Big oil, big coal and the frigging frackers will poor their money into denial and the sheep follow.
      As stated this is my last post in this go -round.

      It really is unfair to play mental war with an unarmed opponent.
      Next Mr. Morelli will have us believe that the USA didn’t go to the moon, Elvis is alive and the equator actually runs north-south.

      As they say in southern Italy ciao y’all.

  1. Mental fixation on Nitrogen And Phosphorus
    Dr. Louda’s myopic view of the environment leaves out of his analysis why nitrogen necessary, and if not used what can be used. As for growing more tomatoes, who does that doctor? Really? Nitrogen is being used to grow greener grass? Is it all about color doctor? And another thing that I have noticed, you have a thing about excrement. This is the second time I have read your name under a letter complaining about horse manure. Do you happen to know what the economy is based upon in Wellington? Or are you so focused on water in the canals that you are totally ignorant about everything else? Doctor I’m sorry to say that your single minded focus on clean water is a real problem in this horrible economy and 40% unemployment in the Glades. I bet you think that sugar needs to stop growing in the Glades, you are willfully ignorant about how your ideology effects the economy, and that makes you dangerous.

    • The writer of this comment should go back to school, grade school would be a great start. Where in my original letter to the editor did I mention or even infer that we should NOT fertilize at all. I spoke of and only of EXCESSES.
      Yes I do complain about excrement and the comment above is just such an example. The writer of the above comment probably doesn’t believe than man has initiated (anthropogenesis–oooH!) an unprecedented climate change. When we speak of Global Warming we do do not necessarily mean that the average temperature of Florida is going up greatly-you and I won’t notice it. The effect is in the mean annual temperature at the poles, notably the North Pole. The records show that we (man) has reversed a cooling trend and that it corresponds with the industrial revolution –yes I know, don’t bother you with facts. You want to focus on business–excess nitrogen has lead to macroalgal overgrowths off our coral reefs with the result that thousands of SCUBA divers have diverted their holidays to more pristine areas. Take that to the bank!
      Everything in MODERATE bucko.


      Dr. J. William Louda

      • The Liberal Bias of University Staff Members
        Dr. Louda’s erudite response to being challenged intellectually is this juvenile statement: “The writer of this comment should go back to school, grade school would be a great start”. What is Dr. Louda’s background in education? He is currently a non-tenure track faculty member of Florida Atlantic University.

        Dr. Louda is a graduate of Wright State University . According to Bloomberg.com Wright State University is “an unremarkable commuter school ranked rather poorly in major-magazine rankings.” The four-year graduation rate at Wright State is 18 percent according to Bloomberg. A out of state student only needs an SAT score of 940 which means that the student performed in the bottom 3% of test takers.

        Dr. Scientists making more conservative forecasts have had trouble making themselves heard. We need to ask why? If the science is so settled, then why are opposing viewpoints demonized and suppressed?

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