Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Global assessment of nitrogen fertilizer: The SCOPE/IGBP nitrogen fertilizer rapid assessment project

  • 50 Accesses

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) availability is a key role in food and fiber production. Providing plant-available N through synthetic fertilizer in the 20th and early 21st century has been a major contributor to the increased production required to feed and clothe the growing human population. To continue to meet the global demands and to minimize environmental problems, significant improvements are needed in the efficiency with which fertilizer N is utilized within production systems. There are still major uncertainties regarding the fate of fertilizer N added to agricultural soils and the potential for reducing losses to the environment. Enhancing the technical and economic efficiency of fertilizer N is seen to promote a favorable situation for both agricultural production and the environment, and this has provided much of the impetus for a new N fertilizer project.

To address this important issue, a rapid assessment project on N fertilizer (NFRAP) was conducted by SCOPE (the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment) during late 2003 and early 2004. This was the first formal project of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). As part of this assessment, a successful international workshop was held in Kampala, Uganda on 12 –16 January, 2004. This workshop brought together scientists from around the world to assess the fate of synthetic fertilizer N in the context of overall N inputs to agricultural systems, with a view to enhancing the efficiency of N use and reducing negative impacts on the environment. Regionalization of the assessment highlighted the problems of too little N for crop production to meet the nutrient requirements of sub-Saharan Africa and the oversupply of N in the major rice-growing areas of China. The results of the assessment are presented in a book (SCOPE 65) which is now available to provide a basis for further discussions on N fertilizer.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. 1.

    FAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization), FAO agricultural data bases, http://www.fao.org, 2004.

  2. 2.

    Greenland, D. J., Soil organic matter in relation to crop nutrition and management, in Proceedings of the International Conference on the Management and Fertilization of Upland Soils in the Tropics and Subtropics, Nanjing: Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1988, 85–89.

  3. 3.

    Boyer, E. W., Howarth, R. W., The nitrogen cycle at regional to global scales, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002, 519.

  4. 4.

    Galloway, J. N., Cowling, E. B., Seitzinger, S.P. et al., Reactive nitrogen: Too much of a good thing? Ambio, 2002, 31: 60–63.

  5. 5.

    Clark, F. E., Rosswall, T., eds., Terrestrial nitrogen cycles, Processes, Ecosystem Strategies and Management Impact. Ecol. Bull., 1981, 33:163–178.

  6. 6.

    Howarth, R. W., ed., Nitrogen Cycling in the North Atlantic Ocean and Its Watersheds. Report of the International SCOPE Nitrogen Project, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Press, 1996, 304.

  7. 7.

    Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J.R., eds., Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment. SCOPE (Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment) Series Volume 65, Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 296.

  8. 8.

    Smil, V., Nitrogen in crop production: An account of global flows, Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 1999, 13: 647–662.

  9. 9.

    Balasubramanian, V., Alves, B., Aulakh, M. et al., Crop, environmental and management factors affecting nitrogen use efficiency, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 19–33.

  10. 10.

    Peoples, M. B., Boyer, E. W., Goulding, K. W. T. et al., Pathways of nitrogen loss and their impacts on human health and the environment, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 53–69.

  11. 11.

    Goulding, K., Pathways and lossesof fertilizer nitrogen at different scales, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 209–219.

  12. 12.

    Boyer, E. W., Howarth, R. W., Galloway, J. N. et al., Current nitrogen inputs to World Regions, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 221–230.

  13. 13.

    Howarth, R. W., Boyer, E. W., Pabich, W. J. et al., Nitrogen use in the United States from 1961–2000 and potential future trends, Ambio, 2002, 31: 88–96.

  14. 14.

    IFA/FAO, Global estimates of gaseous emissions of NH3, NO and N2O from agricultural land, Rome: FAO, 2001, 106.

  15. 15.

    Brown, L. R., Feeding nine billion, in State of the World 1999. A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society (eds. Brown, C. Flavin, L. R., French, H.), New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999, 115–132.

  16. 16.

    Smil, V., Nitrogen and food production: Proteins for human diets, Ambio, 2002, 31: 126–131.

  17. 17.

    Roy, A. H., Hammond, L. L., Challenges and opportunities for the fertilizer industry, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 233–243.

  18. 18.

    Palm, C. A., Machado, P. L. O. A., Mahmood, T. et al., Societal responses for addressing nitrogen fertilizer needs: Balancing food production and environmental concerns, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 71–89.

  19. 19.

    Aulakh, M. S., Malhi, S. S., Fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency as influenced by interactions with other nutrients, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 181–191.

  20. 20.

    Dobermann, A., Cassman, K. G., Environmental dimensions of fertilizer nitrogen: What can be done to increase nitrogen use efficiency and ensure global food security? in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 261–278.

  21. 21.

    Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R., Nitrogen fertilizer: An essential component of increased food, feed and fiber production, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 3–15.

  22. 22.

    Giller, K. E., Chalk, P., Dobermann, A. et al., Emerging technologies to increase the efficiency of use of fertilizer nitrogen, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 35–51.

  23. 23.

    Hubbell, D. H., Extension of symbiotic biological nitrogen fixation technology in developing countries, Fertilizer Research, 1995, 42: 231–239.

  24. 24.

    McCown, R. L., Wafula, B. M., Mohammed, L. et al., Assessing the value of seasonal rainfall predictor to agronomic decisions: The case of response farming in Kenya, in Climatic risk in crop production: Models and management for the semi-arid tropics and subtropics (eds. Muchow, R. C., Bellamy, J. A.) Wallingford: CAB International, 1991.

  25. 25.

    Vanlauwe, B., Sanginga, N., Giller, K. et al., Management of nitrogen fertilizer in maize-based systems in subhumid areas of sub-Saharan Africa, in SCOPE 65. Agriculture and the Nitrogen Cycle: Assessing the Impacts of Fertilizer Use on Food Production and the Environment (eds. Mosier, A. R., Syers, J. K., Freney, J. R.), Washington DC: Island Press, 2004, 115–127.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Arvin R. Mosier.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mosier, A.R., Syers, J.K. & Freney, J.R. Global assessment of nitrogen fertilizer: The SCOPE/IGBP nitrogen fertilizer rapid assessment project. Sci. China Ser. C.-Life Sci. 48, 759–766 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03187116

Download citation

Keywords

  • crop production
  • environmental quality
  • nitrate leaching
  • soil fertility