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Fertilizer Nitrogen, Food Security, Health and the Environment

Publisher: PINSA

Fertilizer nitrogen has been the key input in increasing food production globally. The global food production has to be doubled in the next 37 years (by 2050), and this will require doubling the fertilizer nitrogen consumption. Efficiency of fertilizer nitrogen is quite low, especially in the tropical regions, where rice is the principal crop. About one-third of the applied fertilizer nitrogen is lost to the atmosphere or leached down to groundwater. Thus as the nitrogen consumption increases, its contribution to environmental pollution with ammonia and nitrous oxide and groundwater contamination with nitrates will also increases. Nitrate in drinking water above 50 mg nitrate per litre can lead to blue baby syndrome and diarrhoea in infants and may even lead to the development of nitroso compounds that are carcinogenic in nature. It is therefore important that nitrogen use efficiency in crop production is increased. In addition to agronomic practices, such as growing nitrogen efficient cultivars and deep placement and split application, sincere efforts need to be made to develop controlled release or nitrification inhibitor blended nitrogen fertilizers and make them available to the farmers. While working out the economics of these new nitrogen fertilizers their contribution to reducing environmental pollution and health hazards in addition to increase in crop yield needs to be accounted for.

Author(s): R Prasad | Views(270)

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