Quick Bites

Sept 19: Open seminar with expert Eric Davidson!

September 18, 2013

by: Emily Sydnor
Mo Fo Lo Po! How to produce MOre FOod with LOw POllution

Eric Davidson, a world leader in soil science and ecosystems research and expert on how food can be produced in a more sustainable manner, will be giving a seminar on Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm in Clark Hall.

Seminar abstract:
Food production requires inputs of nitrogen (N) from chemical fertilizers, manure, compost, or biological N fixation. Because no system is 100% efficient, some leakage of N from crop and animal production systems is inevitable. Inadvertent N losses from agricultural systems are contributing to climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, air pollution, biodiversity loss, fisheries decline, algal blooms, and drinking water contamination. The challenge of mitigating these impacts will grow as human population increases, as poverty and hunger decline, and as per capita meat consumption grows. Fortunately, agricultural N losses can be minimized by good science-based management. Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) has been increasing in developed countries due improved irrigation and water management, improved crop varieties, development of controlled-release fertilizers and urease and nitrification inhibitors, improved soil and plant testing to match nutrient applications with crop demands, use of cover crops, improved nutrition management of livestock, and increasing availability of decision support tools. Technological developments will offer additional opportunities for farmers to improve NUE, but technology alone is not the only or perhaps even the most important factor for nearterm mitigation of N pollution. Many current technologies are not fully utilized because of economic and social barriers to their adoption. A combination of government and private sector incentives, regulations, and outreach efforts are needed to encourage adoption of best management practices that would improve NUE and reduce N losses to the environment. Food security with minimal environmental impact requires integration of natural and social sciences to develop sound agronomic and environmental policies.



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