Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Fertilizer use

9 June 2020

This paper by FCRN member Roger Leakey proposes a three-stage process to improve smallholder incomes, yields, nutrition and environmental performance in tropical agriculture, focusing on Africa. Leakey argues that food policies developed in industrialised nations do not always recognise that farming systems are very different across the world.

27 May 2020

This paper finds that global cropland use could be almost halved while maintaining current output levels by optimising fertiliser inputs and re-allocating the production location of 16 major crops. Co-benefits would include reduced emissions from fertilisers and rice paddies, lower irrigation water requirements, and land being freed up for sequestering carbon through restoring natural vegetation.

10 February 2020

This paper assesses the rate of soil erosion in different countries, aiming to separate the effect of varying landscapes from the effect of different national territories, e.g. through different agricultural policies or management patterns. As an example of a sharp discontinuity in soil erosion between neighbouring countries, visible on satellite images, the paper shows the difference between Haiti (with a high soil erosion rate) and the Dominican Republic (with greater forest cover and a lower soil erosion rate) - two countries that would have similar natural soil erosion rates in the absence of human activity. 

28 January 2020

This Guardian article discusses farms that are growing crops organically without using animal manure or blood and bone meal, in contrast to most organic farms. This approach is not yet widespread, with only around 50 such farms in the United States. Relevant organisations include the Biocyclic Vegan Standard and the Vegan Organic Network.

28 January 2020

This paper finds that over ten billion people could be fed within the constraints of four planetary boundaries (biosphere integrity, land-system change, freshwater use, and nitrogen flows), if the food system undergoes a “technological-cultural U-turn”.

20 January 2020

This book gives details of methods for detecting and dealing with various agrochemicals, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and soil fumigants.

7 January 2020

FCRN member Ken Giller, professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University & Research, has contributed to the online magazine “The Story of N2Africa”, which tells stories from the last ten years of the project N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.

9 December 2019

The US think tank Breakthrough Institute has created an interactive series of graphs to visualise how the environmental impact of farming in the United States has changed over time, covering land use, nitrogen loss, water, herbicides, soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions and spending on research and development.

9 December 2019

This briefing from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) notes that demand for five cereals in sub-Saharan Africa is set to almost triple by 2050. It argues that it is possible for the region to be self-sufficient in cereals by 2050 using only the current area of cereal farmland, but that this requires significantly higher fertiliser use. To keep greenhouse gas emissions to the minimum possible will require suitable crop varieties, careful nutrient management, optimum planting densities and protection of crops against weeds, pests and diseases.

2 December 2019

Over 10,000 farmers blocked roads in Berlin on 26 November 2019 with a convoy of tractors in protest at regulations that will limit the use of fertiliser (to reduce groundwater pollution) and the weedkiller glyphosate (to protect insect populations). Farmers say that the measures will threaten their livelihoods and are also protesting against the perception that farmers are to blame for the climate crisis.

25 November 2019

This report, commissioned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts, examines how the profitability of upland farming systems can be increased at the same time as protecting the natural environment.

19 November 2019

This paper presents a study of wheat farmers in India. Low-cost data from small satellites helped to map the results of spreading fertiliser either by hand or with a new spreader device that allowed more even application of fertiliser. 

11 November 2019

The initial results of an experiment on palm oil plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia, suggests that using less fertiliser on palm oil plantations and controlling weeds through mechanical weeding instead of herbicide use could be beneficial both ecologically and economically.

22 October 2019

This book summarises current best practice in using life cycle assessment to quantify and improve the environmental impacts of different agricultural systems. 

22 October 2019

This paper outlines the main sustainability challenges linked to nitrogen, including inadequate access to nitrogen fertiliser in some parts of the world and excessive fertiliser application in other areas, leading to water pollution, algal blooms and risks to human health. The paper argues that solving nitrogen problems would have co-benefits for other sustainability issues such as hunger, air, soil and water quality, climate and biodiversity.

18 September 2019

This paper reviews the literature on the supply chain of phosphorus, a nutrient required in agriculture, and finds that current reporting is inadequate regarding phosphorus reserves and resources, losses along the supply chain, environmental and sociopolitical externalities, and open access to data.

17 June 2019

Methane emissions from ammonia fertiliser manufacturing plants (which use natural gas as a feedstock and energy source) in the United States are around one hundred times higher than currently reported levels, according to this study. Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with methane analysers to take measurements downwind of six ammonia fertiliser plants (there are only 23 such plants in the US).

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