Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Fertilizer use

Image: USDA NRCS Montana, Irrigation31.tif, Flickr, Public domain
19 March 2018

A wireless soil probe that measures soil conditions every 15 minutes could help farmers to apply fertilisers more efficiently and prevent overwatering. Each probe has 23 sensors and sends data to a software interface that summarises the information for farmers. Factors measured include levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pH, moisture, temperature and aeration.

Image: Andiseño Estudio, volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-8__880, Flickr, Public domain
26 February 2018

Using volcanic rock dust as a fertiliser on farms could offset around one tenth of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to preliminary estimates.

20 February 2018

This report, edited by the World Bank, reviews the literature to explore the sources and impacts of agricultural pollution in East Asia and propose solutions.

Photo: United Soybean Board, Soil, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
13 July 2017

In this short perspective piece, researchers from the Netherlands, USA and the UK critically assess the COP21 4 per 1000 initiative, which seeks to increase global yearly agricultural soil organic carbon sequestration by 4‰ (= 0.4%, or 1.2 billion tonnes). The authors argue that as soil organic matter (SOM) also contains nitrogen (N), with a C-to-N ratio always approaching 12, this will require the sequestration of an extra 100 million tonnes of N per year, and they question the feasibility of achieving this. 

Image credit: USDA, Kitayama Brothers, Inc. (KBI) hydroponic greenhouses, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
10 January 2017

This paper describes the operation of a bubble-insulated greenhouse system that recycles organic waste, through its anaerobic conversion into biogas and digestate, into inputs for new food. It reports that commercial crop yields were repeatedly matched and bettered, while an 80% reduction in heat energy demand and 95% reduction in CO2eq emissions was realised compared to conventional greenhouse production.

Photo credit: Analia Bertucci, USDA NRCS, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
15 December 2016

In this paper, the authors present an analysis of the nitrogen cycle in the agricultural production system of 12 world regions. From these results, they go on to suggest improvements in nitrogen use by changing the role of human diet, international trade and local production.

Photo: South African Tourism, Northern Cape, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
11 October 2016

Recent assessments have strongly suggested that meeting the widely agreed target of limiting global warming to less than 2°C will require the deployment of substantial carbon sinks in addition to measures to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This perspective article examines the latest research and thinking on the ability of agricultural soil management to reduce GHG emissions and promote soils as carbon sinks, and the practical feasibility of implementing available soil management practices

Photo: targut, rapeseed fields, Flickr, Creative commons licence 2.0
1 August 2016

Biofuel policies have been a major driver of rising prices for biofuel crops around the world, such as rapeseed, corn and soy. In this paper researchers take France as an example and show that a tax of €0.05–0.27 per kg of fertiliser could help to limit French farmers’ use of fertiliser (driven by the high rapeseed prices resulting from biofuels policy).

28 June 2016

Nanotechnology – the designing of ultra-small particles – is part of the evolving science of precision agriculture, and could potentially solve some of the world’s most pressing problems at the food-energy-water nexus as it requires fewer natural resources and water, and enhances plant nutritional values. 

9 June 2016

This paper published in Nature Plants finds that if tropical farming intensifies, major additions of phosphorus to soils will be needed

20 April 2016

This study looks into how residential landscapes in Chicago, USA, which constitute the largest single urban land use, benefit ecosystems. It argues that even though we often don’t associate modern urban areas with healthy ecosystems, home gardens in urban landscapes can contribute to important ecosystem services.

Photo credit: USDA NRCS South Dakota (Flickr, Creative commons)
10 March 2016

In this study, researchers from the Netherlands and Italy investigate the long-term (past and future) changes in phosphorus (P) budgets in grasslands used for grazing and in connection with croplands. The authors recognise a lack in the literature of studies characterising the P cycle in relation to grasslands and croplands, and - as grass-dependent livestock demand is increasing – they seek to address this lack of understanding.

18 January 2016

In this policy briefing, Global Justice Now reports on the alleged “hidden emissions” of three major agribusinesses, the aim being to highlight the real contribution that multinational feed, fertiliser and beef agribusinesses make to climate change.

9 November 2015

This report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) aims to inform decision-making that focuses on reducing impacts on natural capital.