Humans flush it, cows dump it, and two million ton machines scoop it from the ground. Without it one third of us would starve. Modern Marvels: Fertilizer tours the places that harness the ... See full summary »
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Humans flush it, cows dump it, and two million ton machines scoop it from the ground. Without it one third of us would starve. Modern Marvels: Fertilizer tours the places that harness the vital nutrients that enrich the soil...that grow the crops...that feed us. Written by Anonymous

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20 June 2007 (USA)  »

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Without It, A Third Of The World Would Starve
9 June 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Boy, this episode stinks! Not really, it's just the topic - fertilizer. At one point, the narrator comments, "The stench in this place is so bad it would make a grown man cry!" As with almost all the topics discussed on this excellent and long-running TV series, there is a lot more to the subject matter than you might think. Producing the basics of fertilizer is easy - just pick up the droppings of cows, bats and....well, us: humans. But the process of making that into the final product of fertilizer spread over land is a big deal, and requires huge machinery. We get tours of several places that do this.

We also learn that without fertilizer, one-third of the Earth's six billion people would starve. It's that important in the plant-growing process. We learn about the three basic nutrients of this product: nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, and how all three of these are taken from the earth or air.

Warning: some of this episode is a bit gross and they show cows pooping, and they do that a lot, in big quantities. We see the same, believe-it-or-not, in bat caves where bat guano is a valuable product that once spurned a war in South America.

In addition are looks at crop dusters, GreenSeeking Sensors, and other methods of distributing the valuable you-know-what.


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