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For holistic control of reactive N: Regional, national and global perspectives


Reactive N is closely related to the global issues of climate change and regional pollutions. Nitrous oxide (N2O), the fourth important gas among greenhouse gases, is produced as an intermediate in nitrification and denitrification processes. As methane (CH4) is the end product in the anoxic decomposition of organic materials, mitigation options of N2O emission are different from those of CH4 emission. Nitrate is another reactive N bringing about the eutrification of aqueous environments and the hazard of drinking water. Mitigation of NO3 problem also relates closely to the N2O emission. Therefore, holistic approaches are necessary for solving the problems of Earth warming and environmental eutrification by reactive N at the same time. In this paper, the deforestation in the tropics, and the present situations of food supply and sustainable agriculture in Japan are re-evaluated in terms of N2O emission and NO3 discharge from the agricultural sector. The magnitude of N2O emission by deforestation in the tropics may fall within the similar order of magnitude by N fertilization. As more N is imported as foods and fodder than the amount of fertilized N in Japan, more attention should be paid to the phases of their consumption and waste treatment. Sole attention to the production stage is not enough for the total mitigation of various environmental problems by reactive N in relation to agriculture. Parameters holistically evaluating the impact of reactive N on the Earth and respective regions are urgently necessary.

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Kimura, M. For holistic control of reactive N: Regional, national and global perspectives. Sci. China Ser. C.-Life Sci. 48, 856–860 (2005).

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  • holistic control of reactive N
  • regional
  • national and global scales