Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Fertilizer use

5 September 2014

This paper published in PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - looks at the environmental costs of food production and in particular livestock based food production.  The paper is based on annual 2000–2010 data for land, irrigation water, and fertilizer from the USDA, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Energy.

22 July 2014

This study looks at the double challenge of increasing food security while addressing environmental problems caused by agriculture. It identifies a set of key actions in three broad areas that hold the greatest potential for achieving these efficiency and sustainability goals.

27 March 2014

We include this initiative because it addresses the challenges of of ‘closing the food loop’. This innovative solar-thermal toilet was developed by a team led by CU-Boulder Professor Karl Linden to improve sanitation and hygiene in developing countries.

6 February 2014

A growing imbalance between phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizer use in Africa could lead to crop yield reductions of nearly 30% by 2050, according to a new study from researchers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).

1 November 2013

A new study by researchers at University of Calgary published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that the long-term legacy of past fertilizer applications must be considered in reducing nitrate contamination of aquatic ecosystems. The study finds that nitrogen fertilizer leaks out in the form of nitrate into groundwater for much longer than was previously thought.  The long-term tracer study revealed that three decades after synthetic nitrogen (N) was applied to agricultural soils, 12–15% of the fertilizer-derived N was still residing in the soil organic matter, while 8–12% of the fertilizer N had already leaked toward the groundwater.

21 May 2013

Scientists at Lancaster, Virginia and Oxford universities have produced a web-based tool that allows anyone living in the UK to see their own ‘nitrogen footprint’. 

18 March 2013

A new study suggests that enriching crops by adding a naturally-occurring soil mineral to fertilisers could potentially help to reduce disease and premature death in Malawi. Dietary deficiency of the mineral selenium plays a vital role in keeping the immune system healthy and fighting illness and is likely to be endemic among the Malawi population.

25 February 2013

A report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been published , focusing on the environmental problems caused by nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrient flows and identifying the actions that could be taken to reduce excessive nutrient use.  The research was led by Mark Sutton at the UK’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and carried out by 50 exports from 14 countries.

19 June 2012

A new 'Farm Platform' has been launched at Rothamsted Research North Wyke in Devon, aims to help farmers to optimise productivity in ways that are sustainable, whilst at the same time understanding the impact of farming methods on the environment. 

2 May 2012

The Soil Association has published 'Just say N2O: From manufactured fertiliser to biologically-fixed nitrogen.' This report reviews the extent to which organic systems can meet the double challenge of reducing nitrogen losses and building stores of soil organic nitrogen so as to reduce dependency on manufactured nitrogen.

25 April 2012

FCRN mailing list member Ken Giller is one of the authors of this paper on phosphorous which finds that average global phosphorous needs in 2050 will be less than previous estimates assume due to the presence of residual phosphorous in soils (from historical applications). The implication of this is that the global phosphate supply will last longer than hitherto expected.

13 April 2012

This is an interesting presentation, given by Eric Davidson of Woods Hole Research Center, at the recent Planet under Pressure conference in March 2012.  The presentation is a summary of a paper he has forthcoming in Environmental Research Letters. 

17 February 2012

A couple of papers by FCRN mailing-list members on soil carbon sequestration: these conclude that the benefits of soil carbon sequestration activites (through the incorporation of organic matter and/or reduced tillage) have been overstated and may distract attention from other priorities, including halting deforestation and improving N use efficiency. 

10 January 2012

A Perspectives piece in Science discusses some recent studies focusing on the increasing abundance of available nitrogen on Earth.

3 July 2010

The Committee on Climate Change has published its second progress report to Parliament. It says that a step change in the pace of underlying emissions reductions is still required if the UK is to meet its legislated carbon budgets - which require at least a 34% cut in emissions by 2020 relative to 1990 levels. Emissions of greenhouse gases have declined over the past year (by 8.6%), but this is almost entirely due to a reduction in economic activity caused by the recession and increased fossil fuel/ energy prices, and is not the result of the implementation of measures to reduce emissions.

6 July 2009

This paper argues that organic agriculture can feed the world. The authors state that the principal objections to the proposition that organic agriculture can contribute significantly to the global food supply are low yields and insufficient quantities of organically acceptable fertilizers. They evaluate the universality of both claims. 

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