The stuff of life.
It is essential to maintain global food supply, but the clock is ticking.
Val Handumon / EPA
The main source of global warming isn't baking or transport, but fertiliser used to grow wheat.
Our food system depends on nitrogen fertilisers.
Nitrogen image from www.shutterstock.com
Somehow we need to grow more food to feed an expanding population while minimising the problems associated with nitrogen fertiliser use.
Gardening in Australia requires, to varying degrees depending where in the country you are, pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers.
When working with garden chemicals, always make sure you are wearing gloves. Apply sprays and dusts downwind and wear goggles if necessary. Always follow the directions.
A market that lets sugar cane farmers trade ‘nitrogen permits’ could help keep a cap on fertiliser use.
You've heard of cap-and-trade schemes for greenhouse gases. Perhaps we also need one to limit the amount of fertiliser runoff onto the Great Barrier Reef.
Beefy problem: livestock emit methane, but the soils where they graze can be much more climate-friendly than cropland.
AAP Image/Caroline Duncan Photography
Eating meat means greenhouse emissions. But the emissions from growing crops may have been underestimated, meaning that a climate-friendly diet isn't as straightforward as simply going vegetarian.
Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients for soils and Africa doesn’t have enough.
Nitrogen inputs in African soil must be carefully used. If they're not, there will be unintended consequences for the environment and human health.
Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters
You know that greenhouse gases are changing the climate. But when did you last worry about phosphorus?
Esteban De Armas / shutterstock.com
Too much fertiliser can kill all life in parts of the ocean. It has happened before – and could do so again.
Nitrogen pollution is one of the factors driving outbreaks of crown-of-thorns - giant starfish that devour the reef.
Kenneth Taylor Jr/Flickr
The latest Great Barrier Reef report shows some improvements to water quality over the past five years, but there's still a lot to do on one particular problem: nitrogen.
A Malawian mother and her child in front of maize harvested in Lilongwe. A fertiliser programme has increased crop yields.
Malawi's large-scale subsidy for farmers has resulted in higher maize production, lower food prices and higher wages. But this has come at significant costs.
Good for plants, bad for the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is the “face” of the greenhouse gases, but nitrous oxide (N2O) merits its own spotlight. The same “laughing gas” once used by dentists as an anaesthetic and used today by people looking…
Put innovative farming techniques in the right hands.
Africa will be able to feed itself in the next 15 years. That’s one of the big “bets on the future” that Bill and Melinda Gates have made in their foundation’s latest annual letter. Helped by other breakthroughs…
Sewage would be useful if it wasn’t mixed in together.
The critical links between water, sanitation, and our global consumption of energy – the “energy-water nexus” are more obvious than ever before. But how many of us will take direct action at the most basic…
Greener fertilisers are coming your way.
James T M Towill
Researchers have developed a method to produce ammonia simply from air and water. Not only is it more energy efficient than…
Excessive use of nitrogen-based fertilisers in agriculture is contributing to nitrous oxide emissions. Leftover nitrogen…
Research has discovered a bacterium that can be used to reduce the amount of fertiliser used in the production of sugarcane…
Phosphorous levels in coral reef systems located close to shorelines have increased over the past few decades according to…
Megafauna such as Glyptodon were muck-spreaders.
If Earth were like a human body, large animals might be its arteries, moving nutrients from where they’re abundant to where they’re needed. Currently the planet has large regions where life is limited…
Plants that breathe nitrogen.
University of Nottingham
Each year more than 1 million tonnes of mineral nitrogen fertiliser is applied to arable and grass crops in the UK. This pollutes waterways through nitrate run-off and the atmosphere from the release of…