When it comes to fertilizing plants, you probably have two choices: you can use chemical fertilizers, or you can grow your own.
That is what many farmers have done.
But as the number of new fertilizer applications in California has spiked in recent years, the state is scrambling to figure out how to get farmers to use it.
The result is a state of limbo: The state is struggling to figure which chemicals are safe for use and which are not.
That’s why it’s so important to get a handle on the number and types of chemicals being used in the state, says Richard Coyle, director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at UC Berkeley Law School.
“We don’t have a complete understanding of the chemical composition of our food supply,” he says.
And while some of the chemicals used in fertilizers are safe, others are not, he says, and some are toxic.
The state of California is struggling with a lack of information about how many chemicals are used and when.
But a few things are clear.
The chemicals are being used all over the state.
They’re not evenly distributed.
And they’re being used mostly in urban areas, with little exposure to rural farmers.
Here are the biggest factors in California’s fertilizer problems.
Chemical fertilizers: More than a quarter of all fertilizers in California are made from synthetic materials, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
But there are some companies that use less toxic alternatives, like cellulose gum.
There are two major types of synthetic fertilizers that are used in California.
One is called the “bio-cellulose” variety, which is made from corn and rice.
The other is called “biosynthesis” and is made by microbes.
Bio-cellular-based fertilizers contain chemicals that help plant cells produce their own sugars and vitamins, and are more environmentally friendly than synthetic ones.
The California Department Of Food and Agronomy is working to figure it out.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, meanwhile, is studying the issue, and the California Environmental Quality Commission is working on a plan to identify chemical sources of fertilizers.
The number of chemicals used: In recent years California has been growing more quickly than other states, and many growers have switched to more environmentally sensitive methods.
But the state hasn’t figured out how many of the same chemicals are actually being used, says Tom Bowers, director for the state agriculture and environmental quality program at the University of California, Davis.
That means it’s unclear how many farmers are using all of them.
Bowers says some chemicals can have different effects on different plants, which could affect how well fertilizers work.
Some fertilizers can have “more of an impact on a plant than others,” he explains.
The type of fertilizer: There are three main types of fertilizer: bio-celluarose, bio-sulfur and biosynthesis.
All of the fertilizers on the market are made up of these three types.
“The most commonly used chemical fertilizer in California is bio-cells,” says Bowers.
The bio-plant-based version of fertilizer is more environmentally beneficial than the synthetic fertilizer, and it has fewer toxic compounds.
“A biosynthesis fertilizer is made of cellulose and can have more of a benefit for plants,” he adds.
“But it’s also more expensive, and has more chemicals.”
The California Division of Plant and Soil Conservation is working with the California Institute of Food Technology and the Agricultural Marketing Association to determine how much bio- and biosynthetic fertilizers have been used in various parts of the state in recent decades.
What chemicals are in the fertilizer?
The California Environmental Protection Agency says it has been able to identify the chemicals that are in fertilizer production and used in food, agriculture and forestry products.
The agency also tracks the use of each chemical in the products and reports back to the public, so farmers can get a picture of the amount of chemicals they are using.
Bower says the agency does not track the chemicals in fertilized products in bulk or by product type.
The EPA does report a summary of the toxicological information that chemicals have been tested on.
But Bowers cautions that because of the limited data on how toxic the chemicals are, the agency is unable to say how toxic they actually are.
The use of chemicals like trichloroethylene, for example, is not listed in the chemical’s label.
The chemical is used in cleaning products and other industrial applications, but not in food.
How long do fertilizers last?
California has a long-term goal of having 100 percent of its farmland and 100 percent in use by 2020, says Bower.
That would mean more use of bio-technology and less use of synthetic.
But some experts question the ability of the current system to achieve that.
“In a long run, we’ll see the amount and the