Helping farmers around the globe apply more-precise amounts of nitrogen-based fertiliser can help combat climate change. These fertilisers spur greenhouse gas emissions by stimulating microbes in the soil to produce more nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas, behind only carbon dioxide and methane and also destroys stratospheric ozone. Agriculture accounts for around 80 percent of human-caused nitrous oxide emissions worldwide, which have increased substantially in recent years, primarily due to increased nitrogen fertiliser use.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Michigan State University researchers provide an improved prediction of nitrogen fertiliser’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural fields. The study uses data from around the world to show that emissions of nitrous oxide rise faster than previously expected when fertiliser rates exceed crop needs. The production of nitrous oxide can be greatly reduced if the amount of nitrogen fertiliser crops need is exactly the amount that’s applied to farmers’ fields.
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Source: Michigan State University
    10-06-2014 00:00