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Nitrogen pollution is one of the factors driving outbreaks of crown-of-thorns - giant starfish that devour the reef. Kenneth Taylor Jr/Flickr

High-tech fertilisers and innovation have to come to the Great Barrier Reef’s rescue

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. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Malawi’s farm subsidy benefits the poor but doesn’t come cheap

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.
Put innovative farming techniques in the right hands. CGIAR Climate

Yes, Africa will feed itself within the next 15 years

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. EPA

Why not change the way you wee to save the world?

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…
Megafauna such as Glyptodon were muck-spreaders. Pavel Riha

Megafauna extinction affects ecosystems 12,000 years later

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…
Fertiliser: essential for feeding the country, but you can have too much of a good thing. ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Easing China’s fertiliser habit will have global significance

A joint project between scientists in the UK and China has shown how improved methods of manufacturing nitrogen fertiliser and better use of it by farmers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds…
Toilets aren’t just a bin for human waste - they’re a receptacle for future fertiliser. Gates Foundation

The other benefit of sanitation: from human waste to human food

What goes down our toilet is commonly viewed as waste. This makes intuitive sense because separating people from their excreta - sanitation - is arguably the single most important public health objective…
Overuse of nitrogen fertiliser can have nasty environmental consequences. eutrophication&hypoxia/Flickr

Agriculture’s hunger for nitrogen oversteps planetary boundaries

Planet Earth has boundaries for its biophysical subsystems. By 2009, we had already exceeded three of the boundaries – climate change, biodiversity loss, and the nitrogen cycle. Climate change is a top-of-mind…
Another wave is coming: the coral-killing crown of thorns starfish. Flickr/<SLIM>

Great Barrier Reef dying beneath its crown of thorns

The Great Barrier Reef is under attack from a range of enemies including climate change effects (coral bleaching, increased severe storms, and ocean acidification), pollutant discharge from the land, coastal…

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