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, 31 (2), 177-83

Decreasing Reliance on Mineral Nitrogen--Yet More Food


Decreasing Reliance on Mineral Nitrogen--Yet More Food

Rabindra N Roy et al. Ambio.


Higher crop production normally demands higher nutrient application rates and consequently increased mineral nitrogen use. With food demand for 2030 estimated around 2800 mill. tonnes (t) yr-1, the corresponding mineral N consumption figure is 96 mill. t (78 mill. t yr-1 in 1995/1997). Global-level mineral N losses to the environment from mineral fertilizer use are currently 36 mill. t yr-1, worth USD 11,700 mill. and with adverse environmental impacts. However, innovative fertilizer-use efficiency (FUE) technologies enable increased production with a less than a proportionate increase in mineral-N use. Moreover, nitrogen-nutrient supplies can be augmented through improvements in agricultural production systems and in the exploitation of alternative sources such as biological nitrogen fixation (BNF). By 2030, with adequate policy, technology transfer, research and investment support, the on-farm adoption of BNF and FUE technologies could generate savings of 10 mill. t yr-1 of mineral N, worth USD 3300 mill.

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