The fertilizers are a major reason why agriculture is a significant source of both greenhouse gas emissions and pollution in estuaries like the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay. If growers apply too little fertilizer, it reduces crop yields. But if they apply too much, the excess can be released into the atmosphere as nitrous oxide or leach into waterways as nitrate.
Jorge Delgado, with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Soil Plant Nutrient Research Unit in Fort Collins, Colo., conducts research to help growers determine exactly how much nitrogen to apply to a field, when to apply it and what alternatives might work best. The right approach can vary from one location to the next and one crop to the next.
ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priorities of responding to climate change and promoting agricultural sustainability.
Delgado helped develop a tool designed for fledgling "environmental trading" credit programs that reward growers for reducing nitrogen losses. Known as the "Nitrogen Trading Tool" (NTT), it can be used to determine how much a proposed management practice may be able to reduce nitrogen losses, and how much "trading credit" could be earned by switching to it.
The concept of trading nitrogen credits is in its formative stages, but efforts have been established in Pennsylvania and Ohio, with municipalities and state environmental agencies in several states and watersheds studying the concept.
Delgado has distributed the NTT and other tools to hundreds of users, including farmers, agribusinesses, scientists, extension agents, state and federal agencies and international users. He also has used them to convince growers to improve soil-management practices by using conservation tillage, crop rotation and cover crops such as wheat, rye and other grasses. Such practices not only prevent nitrates from leaching into waterways, but prevent soils from eroding and keep carbon and nutrients sequestered in the soil.
Delgado also has published a peer-reviewed report in Advances in Agronomy showing how the NTT may be used to calculate the potential for nitrogen trading on a Virginia no-till operation, an Ohio farm where manure is applied, and irrigated barley and potato fields in Colorado. His efforts to reduce nitrogen losses in Mexico also have been published in the journal Terra Latinoamerica.
Read more about this research in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
Dennis O'Brien | EurekAlert!
Crop achilles' heel costs farmers 10 percent of potential yield
24.01.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
How much drought can a forest take?
20.01.2017 | University of California - Davis
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine