Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Colin Robins

Reader 2

Stephen Adolph


Within the last century, mineral fertilizers have circulated the agricultural industry and have been widely used by U.S. farmers. Our non-involved population can easily, mistakenly believe that synthetic fertilizers directly supply crops with essential nutrients, e.g. nitrogen, immediately upon application, without consequences. However, it is important to understand that the application of fertilizers is the increased introduction of a nutrient in its highly reactive, mineral form to a complex nutrient cycle that involves a myriad of living organisms not limited to plant roots. First, I introduce a familiarity to the functions of soil microbial life, and how connected they are to the survival of native, biodiverse, organically amended vascular plants. Then, considering the responses of plant roots in intensive cropping systems, I examine how providing soil with synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are contributing to conditions that diverge from what has always provided for the co-evolved mutualistic root-soil life systems. Therefore, the soil community collaboration with plant roots are influenced differently, so they are not given the chance to cooperate in the beneficial ways their DNA constructed them to perform, conditioning a different feedback loop of relying on synthetic fertilizers. Our sustained lack of connection to soil is not practical. Therefore, this necessitates more perspectives and ideas of approaches that will: encourage the existing sophisticated systematic functioning of native ecosystems, seek to understand our current separated, concrete-enclaved state, and support the existing people who have ancestral connections to this land.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.