Finding the sweet spot for fertilizer

ST. PAUL, Minn. - A new report shows global use of fertilizer is growing and so are levels of greenhouse gasses.

A University of Minnesota research team is mapping areas where fertilizer is being overused.

"Some places are using too much and some places could use a lot more. If we could get more places to the sweet spot to use the right amount then that would have beneficial impacts for food production and for the environment." said James Gerber, a scientist at the University of Minnesota.

Gerber and his team recently published their work in the scientific journal; Global Change Biology. They discovered areas in Asia and the United States where too much fertilizer is being used, and areas in northern Africa which could use more.

"You can't do away with nitrogen even though I am talking about it as a pollutant. It is crucial for growing the crops that we need to feed ourselves and feed the world." said Gerber.

Nitrous Oxide is created by over application of fertilizer in the soil. According to Gerber, N2O can stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Today, close to 60 percent of N2O human caused emissions comes from agriculture. The U research team hopes to provide a better education of fertilizer and its use.

 


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