Biogeochemistry

, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 477–516 | Cite as

Policy implications of human-accelerated nitrogen cycling

  • Arvin R. Mosier*
  • Marina Azzaroli Bleken
  • Pornpimol Chaiwanakupt
  • Erle C. Ellis
  • John R. Freney
  • Richard B. Howarth
  • Pamela A. Matson
  • Katsuyuki Minami
  • Roz Naylor
  • Kirstin N. Weeks
  • Zhao-liang Zhu

Abstract

The human induced input of reactive N into the globalbiosphere has increased to approximately 150 Tg N eachyear and is expected to continue to increase for theforeseeable future. The need to feed (∼125 Tg N) andto provide energy (∼25 Tg N) for the growing worldpopulation drives this trend. This increase inreactive N comes at, in some instances, significantcosts to society through increased emissions of NOx,NH3, N2O and NO3 and deposition of NOy and NHx.

In the atmosphere, increases in tropospheric ozone andacid deposition (NOy and NHx) have led toacidification of aquatic and soil systems and toreductions in forest and crop system production. Changes in aquatic systems as a result of nitrateleaching have led to decreased drinking water quality,eutrophication, hypoxia and decreases in aquatic plantdiversity, for example. On the other hand, increaseddeposition of biologically available N may haveincreased forest biomass production and may havecontributed to increased storage of atmospheric CO2 inplant and soils. Most importantly, syntheticproduction of fertilizer N has contributed greatly tothe remarkable increase in food production that hastaken place during the past 50 years.

The development of policy to control unwanted reactiveN release is difficult because much of the reactive Nrelease is related to food and energy production andreactive N species can be transported great distancesin the atmosphere and in aquatic systems. There aremany possibilities for limiting reactive N emissionsfrom fuel combustion, and in fact, great strides havebeen made during the past decades. Reducing theintroduction of new reactive N and in curtailing themovement of this N in food production is even moredifficult. The particular problem comes from the factthat most of the N that is introduced into the globalfood production system is not converted into usableproduct, but rather reenters the biosphere as asurplus. Global policy on N in agriculture isdifficult because many countries need to increase foodproduction to raise nutritional levels or to keep upwith population growth, which may require increaseduse of N fertilizers. Although N cycling occurs atregional and global scales, policies are implementedand enforced at the national or provincial/statelevels. Multinational efforts to control N loss tothe environment are surely needed, but these effortswill require commitments from individual countries andthe policy-makers within those countries.

fertilizer food production fossil fuel combustion mitigation NOx N2

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Aber JD, Magill A, McNulty SG, Boone RD, Nadlehoffer KJ, Downs M & Hallett R (1995) Forest biogeochemistry and primary production altered by nitrogen saturation. Water, Air and Soil Poll. 85: 1665–1670Google Scholar
  2. Aber J, McDowell W, Nadelhoffer K, Magill A, Berntson G, Kamakea M, McNulty S, Currie W, Rustad L, & Fernandez I (1998) Nitrogen saturation in temperate forest ecosytems. Bioscience 48: 921–934Google Scholar
  3. Abrahamsen G & Stuanes AO (1998) Retention and leaching of N in Norwegian coniferous forests. Nut. Cycling in Agroecosys. 52: 171–178Google Scholar
  4. Almanac for Agriculture of China (1982, 1997) (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  5. Ayers RU, SchlesingerWH & Socolow RH (1994) Human impacts on the carbon and nitrogen cycles. In: Socolow RH, Andrews C, Berkhout R & Thomas V (Eds) Industrial Ecology and Global Change (pp 121–155). Cambridge University Press, New York, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  6. Badiane O & Delgado CL (1995) A 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington D.C. 56 ppGoogle Scholar
  7. Benkovitz CM, Scholtz MT, Pacyna J Tarras n L, Dignon J, Voldner EC, Spiro PA, Logan JA & Graedel TE (1996) Global gridded inventories of anthropogenic emissions of sulfur and nitrogen. J. of Geophys. Res. 101: 29, 239-29, 253Google Scholar
  8. Bergesen HE & Parmann G (1997) Green Globe Yearbook. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Bleken MA (1997) Food consumption and nitrogen losses from agriculture. In: Lag J (Ed) Some Geomedical Consequences of Nitrogen Circulation Processes. Proceedings of an International Symposium, 12-13 June, 1997 (pp 19–31). The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  10. Bleken MA & Bakken LR (1997) The nitrogen cost of food production: Norwegian Society. Ambio 26: 134–142Google Scholar
  11. Bouwman AF (1997) Long-term scenarios of livestock-crop-land use interactions in developing countries. FAO Land and Water Bulletin 6. FAO Rome. 145 pGoogle Scholar
  12. Bouwmann AF & Booij H (1998) Global use and trade of feedstuffs and consequences for the nitrogen cycle. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 52: 261–267Google Scholar
  13. Broadbent FE & Carlton AB (1978) Field trials with isotopically labeled nitrogen fertilizer. In: Nielsen DR & MacDonald JG (Eds) Nitrogen in the Environment (pp 1–43). Academic Press, Inc. New YorkGoogle Scholar
  14. Brown LR (1999) Feeding nine billion. In: Brown LR, Flavin C & French H (Eds) State of the World 1999. A World Watch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society (pp 115–132). W. Norton & Company, NYGoogle Scholar
  15. Bumb BL & Baanante CA (1996) The role of fertilizer in sustaining food security and protecting the environment to 2020. Food, Agriculture, and the Environment Discussion Paper 17. International Food Policy Research Institute. Washington, D.C. USA. 54 ppGoogle Scholar
  16. CIMMYT (1996) World Wheat Facts and Trends 1995/96. D. F., CIMMYT, MexicoGoogle Scholar
  17. CIMMYT (1999) World Maize Facts and Trends 1997/98. D. F., CIMMYT, MexicoGoogle Scholar
  18. Cole CV, Cerri C, Minami K, Mosier A, Rosenberg N & Sauerbeck D (1996) Agricultural options for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. In: Watson RT, Zinyowera MC & Moss RH Moss (Eds). Climate Change 1995. Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific Technical Analyses. Published for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Chapter 23 (pp 745–771). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,UKGoogle Scholar
  19. Conway G (1997) The Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in the 21st Century. Cornell University PressGoogle Scholar
  20. Crandall, RW & Graham JD (1989) The effect of fuel economy standards on automobile safety. Journal of Law and Economics 32: 97–118Google Scholar
  21. Cui YT, Cheng X, Han CR & Li RG (1998) Nitrogen utilization efficiency of rice and nitrogen leaching in Taihu Lake watershed of south Jiangsu. J. of China Agric. Univ. 3(5): 51–54 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  22. Dasch, JM (1992) Nitrous-oxide emissions from vehicles. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association 42: 63–67Google Scholar
  23. De Jager D, Blok K & van Brummelen M (1998) Cost-Effectiveness of Emission-Reducing Measures of Nitrous Oxide in The Netherlands. Ecosystem Report M704. Utrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  24. Delmas R, Serca D, & Jambert C (1997) Global inventory of NOx sources. Nut. Cycling in Agroecosys. 48: 51–60Google Scholar
  25. Downing JA, Baker JL, Diaz RJ, Prato T, Rabalais NN & Zimmerman RJ (1999) Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia: Land and Sea Interactions. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Task Force Report No 134. Ames, Iowa. 44 pGoogle Scholar
  26. Ellis EC & Wang SM (1997) Sustainable traditional agriculture in the Tai Lake Region of China. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment 61: 177–193Google Scholar
  27. Ellis EC, Li RG, Yang LZ & Cheng X (2000a) Long-term change in village scale ecosystems in China using landscape and statistical methods. Ecological Applications 10: 1057–1073Google Scholar
  28. Ellis EC, Li RG, Yang LZ & Cheng X (2000b) Changes in village-scale nitrogen storage in China's Tai Lake Region. Ecological Applications 10: 1074–1089Google Scholar
  29. FAO, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (1999) FAOSTAT: Agricultural Data, are available on the world wide web: (http://www.apps.fao.org/cgi-bin/nphdb. pl?subset=agriculture)Google Scholar
  30. Ferm M (1998) Atmospheric ammonia and ammonium transport in europe and critical loads - A review. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 51: 5–17Google Scholar
  31. Fertilizers and Agriculture (January 1998) Is the Global Nitrogen Cycle Out of Balance? International Fertilizer Industry Association, Paris. 1 pGoogle Scholar
  32. Galloway J N, Levy H II & Kasibhatla PS (1994) Year 2020: Consequences of population growth and development on the decomposition of oxidized nitrogen. Ambio 23: 120–12Google Scholar
  33. Galloway JN, SchlesingerWH, Levy H II, Michaels A & Schnoor JL (1995) Nitrogen fixation: Anthropogenic enhancement-environmental response. Global Biogeochem. Cyc. 9: 235–252Google Scholar
  34. Geller H (1997) National appliance efficiency standards in the USA: Cost-effective Federal regulations. Energy and Buildings 26(1): 101–109Google Scholar
  35. Greene DL (1998) Why CAFE worked. Energy Policy 26: 595–613Google Scholar
  36. Hendriks CA, de Jager D & Blok K (1998) Emission Reduction Potential and Costs for Methane and Nitrous Oxide in the EU-15. Interim Report. Ecofys report M714. Utrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  37. Holdren JP (1990) Energy in transition. Sci. Am. 263: 157–163Google Scholar
  38. Holland EA & Lamarque JF (1997) Modeling bio-atmospheric coupling of the nitrogen cycle through NOxemissions and NOy deposition. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosys. 48: 7–24Google Scholar
  39. Howarth RW, Billen G, Swaney D, Toronsend A, Joworski N, Lajtha Downing JA, Elmgren R, Caraco N, Jordan T, Berendse F, Freney J, Kudeyarov V, Murdoch P & Zhao-liang Z (1996) Regional nitrogen budgets and riverine N and P fluxes for the drainages to the North Atlantic Ocean: Natural and human influences. Biogeochem. 35: 181–226Google Scholar
  40. Hutchinson GL & Viets FG (1969) Nitrogen enrichment of surface water by absorption of ammonia volatilized from cattle feedlots. Sci. 166: 514–515Google Scholar
  41. IFDC (1999) International Fertilizer Development Center. World Fertilizer Supply/Demand Situation. IFDC, Muscle Shoals, Alabama, February 1999Google Scholar
  42. IPCC (1996) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. IPCC (1995) Intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Houghton JT (Ed) Climate Change 1994. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and an Evaluation of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios. Published for the IPCC, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK 337 ppGoogle Scholar
  44. IPCC (1997) Intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Houghton JT, Meira Filho LG, Lim B, Trennton K, Mamaty I, Bonduki Y, Griggs DJ & Callander BA (Eds) Revised 1996 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Vol. 1-3Google Scholar
  45. IRRI (1995) International Rice Research Institute. World Rice Statistics, Los Banos, The PhilippinesGoogle Scholar
  46. Lal R, Kimble JM, Follett RF & Cole CV (1998) The Potential of U.S./Cropland to Sequester Carbon and Mitigate the Greenhouse Effect. Ann Arbor Press, Chelsa, MI. 128 p.Google Scholar
  47. Legg JO & Meisinger JJ (1982) Soil nitrogen. In: Stevenson FJ (Ed) Nitrogen in Agricultural Soils. Agronomy Monograph No. 22 (pp 503–566). ASA-CSSA-SSSA, Madison, WIGoogle Scholar
  48. Leuck D, Haley S, Liapis P & McDonald B (1995) The EU Nitrate Directive and CAP Reform: Effects on Agricultural Production, Trade, and Residual Soil Nitrogen. Report 255. Economic Research Service. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  49. Li QK, Zhu ZL & Yu TR (1998) Fertilizers and manures in the sustainable agriculture of China. In: Jiangxi Science and Technology Publishers (pp 120-129). (in Chinese) NanchangGoogle Scholar
  50. Ma LS (1997) Nitrogen management and environmental and crop quality. In: Zhu ZL,Wen ZX & Freney JR (Eds) Nitrogen in Soils of China, Developments in Plant and Soil Sciences 74 (pp 303–321) Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  51. Matson PA, Naylor R & Ortiz-Monasterio I (1998) Integration of environmental, agronomic, and economic aspects of fertilizer management. Science 280: 112–115Google Scholar
  52. Matson PA, Parton WJ, Power AG & Swift MJ (1997) Agricultural intensification and ecosystem properties. Science 277: 504–508Google Scholar
  53. McTaggart IP, Clayton H, Parker J, Swan L & Smity KA (1997) Nitrous oxide emissions from grassland and spring barley, following N fertiliser application with and without nitrification inhibitors. Biology and Fertility of Soils 25: 261–268Google Scholar
  54. Minami K (1994) Effect of nitrification inhibitors and slow-release fertilizer on emission of nitrous oxide from fertilized soils. In: Minami K, Mosier A & Sass R (Eds) CH4 and N2OGlobal Emissions and Controls from Rice Fields and Other Agricultural and Industrial Sources (pp 187–196). NIAES, Yokendo, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  55. Mosier AR, Duxbury JM, Freney JR, Heinemeyer O & Minami K (1998) Assessing and mitigating N2O emissions from agricultural soils. Climatic Change 40: 7–38Google Scholar
  56. Müller JF (1992) Geographical distribution and seasonal variation of surface emissions and deposition velocities of atmospheric trace gases. J. Geophys. Res. 97: 3787–3804Google Scholar
  57. NRC (National Research Council) (1993) Soil and Water Quality, An Agenda for Agriculture, Committee on Long-Range Soil and Water Conservation, Board on Agriculture, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 516 pGoogle Scholar
  58. OECD (1999) Orginazation of Economic Cooperation and Development. Data reported in Economist, “Farm Subsidies”, June 5Google Scholar
  59. Olsthoorn CSM & Fong NPK (1998) The anthropogenic nitrogen cycle in the Netherlands. Nut. Cycling in Agroecosys. 52: 269–276Google Scholar
  60. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (1997) OECD Environmental Data Compendium. OECD, ParisGoogle Scholar
  61. Peoples MB, Mosier AR & Freney JR (1995) Minimizing gaseous losses of nitrogen. In: Bacon PE (Ed) Nitrogen Fertilization in the Environment (pp 565–602). Marcel Dekker, IncGoogle Scholar
  62. Policy (1999) Policy Document on Manure and Ammonia, The Netherlands. HYPERLINK http://www.minlnv.nl/international/policy/green/notutmm.htmlGoogle Scholar
  63. Reilly J, Prinn RG, Harnisch J, Fitzmaurice J, Jacoby HD, Kicklighter D, Stone PH, Sokolov AP & Wang C (1999) Multi-Gas Assessment of the Kyoto Protocol. MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Report No. 45. 14 pGoogle Scholar
  64. Schipper L & Meyers S (1992) Energy Efficiency and Human Activity. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  65. Seinfeld JH (1986) Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics of Air Pollution. John Wiley and Sons, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  66. Shoji S & Kanno H (1994) Use of polyolefin-coated fertiizers for increasing fertilizer effi-ciency and reducing nitrte leaching and nitrous oxide emissions. Fertilizer Research 39: 147–152Google Scholar
  67. Smil V (1990) Nitrogen and phosphorus. In: Turner BL II, Clark WC, Kates RW, Richards JF, Mathews JT & Meyer WB (Eds) The Earth as Transformed by Human action (pp 423–436). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  68. Smil V (1991) Population growth and nitrogen: An exploration of a critical existential link. Population and Development Review 17: 569–601Google Scholar
  69. Smil V (1999) Nitrogen in crop production: An account of global flows. Global Biogeochem. Cyc. 13: 647–662Google Scholar
  70. Snyder LP (1994) The death-dealing smog over Donora, Pennsylvania: Industrial air pollution, public health policy, and the politics of expertise. Environmental History Review 18: 117Google Scholar
  71. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) (2000a) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Environment and Human Settlements Division, Geneva. http://www.unece.org/env/lrtapGoogle Scholar
  72. USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) (1997) Agricultural Statistics 1997. United States Government Printing Office, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  73. UNEP/UNIDO (United Nations Environment Programme/United Nations Industrial Development Organization) (1996) Mineral Fertilizer Production and the Environment. Technical Report No. 26. In collaboration with the International Fertilizer Industry Assoc., Paris. 150 ppGoogle Scholar
  74. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1998a) Fact Sheet: Final Rule for Reducing Regional Transport of Ground-Level Ozone ice of Air and Radiation, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  75. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1998b) National Air Pollutant Emissions Update, 1900-1997. Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Research Triangle Park, North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  76. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1998c) National Air Quality and Emissions Trend Report, 1997. Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Research Triangle Park, North CarolinaGoogle Scholar
  77. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1999) National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Office of Air and Radiation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  78. Van der Hoek KW (1998) Nitrogen efficiency in global animal production. Environmental Pollution 102: 127–132Google Scholar
  79. Vitousek PM & Matson PA (1993) Agriculture, the global nitrogen cycle, and trace gas flux. In: Oremland RS (Ed) The Biogeochemistry of Global Change: Radiative Trace Gases (pp 193–208). Chapman & Hall, New Youk, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  80. Vitousek PM, Aber J, Howarth RW, Likens GE, Matson PA, Schindler DW, Schlesinger WH & Tilman DG (1997) Human alteration of the global nitrogen cycle: Causes and Consequences. Issues in Ecology 1: 1–15Google Scholar
  81. Wise W (1968) The World's Worst Air Pollution Disaster. Rand McNally, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  82. Yan WJ, Yin CQ & Yu SM (1998) Nutrient budgets and biogeochemistry in an experimental agricultural watershed in Southeastern China. Biogeochem. (in press)Google Scholar
  83. Zhu ZL (1997) The fate and management of chemical fertilizer nitrogen in agro-ecosystems. In: Zhu ZL, Wen QX & Freney JR (Eds) Nitrogen in Soils of China, Chap. 11. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht/Boston/LondonGoogle Scholar
  84. Zhu ZL (1998a) Fertilizers in relation to agriculture and environment. Exploration of Nature 17(4) 25–28 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  85. Zhu ZL (1998b) The present situation and problems of nitrogen fertilizer use and the strategies. In: Li QK, Zhu ZL & Yu TR (Eds) Fertilizers and Manures in the Sustainable Agriculture of China (pp 38–51). Jiangxi Science and Technology Publishers (in Chinese). NanchangGoogle Scholar
  86. Zhuang WL, Tian Z, Zhang N & Li K (1995) Investigation of nitrate pollution in ground water due to nitrogen fertilization in agriculture in north China. Plant Nutrition and Fertilizer Sciences 1: 80–87 (in Chinese)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arvin R. Mosier*
    • 1
  • Marina Azzaroli Bleken
    • 2
  • Pornpimol Chaiwanakupt
    • 3
  • Erle C. Ellis
    • 4
  • John R. Freney
    • 5
  • Richard B. Howarth
    • 6
  • Pamela A. Matson
    • 7
  • Katsuyuki Minami
    • 8
  • Roz Naylor
    • 7
  • Kirstin N. Weeks
    • 6
  • Zhao-liang Zhu
    • 9
  1. 1.USDA/ARSFort CollinsU.S.A.
  2. 2.Agricultural University of NorwayAasNorway
  3. 3.Thailand Department of AgricultureBangkokThailand
  4. 4.Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food SystemsUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzU.S.A
  5. 5.CSIROCanberra, ACTAustralia
  6. 6.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverU.S.A
  7. 7.Stanford UniversityPalo AltoU.S.A
  8. 8.NIAESTsukubaJapan
  9. 9.Institute of Soil ScienceChinese Academy of ScienceNanjingChina

Personalised recommendations