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Nitrogen Footprint: A Useful Indicator of Agricultural Sustainability

  • Sangita Mohanty
  • Chinmaya Kumar Swain
  • Anjani Kumar
  • A. K. Nayak
Chapter

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) fertilizer has been identified as a crucial input that has alleviated nitrogen limitation in crop production and substantially enhanced yield. Global N fertilizer consumption in the year 2013 was 107.6 million tons which is approximately ten times that of 1961. However, 60–70% of applied N is lost from the system in the form of reactive N species such as ammonia (NH3), nitrous oxide (N2O), nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and nitrate (NO3) due to poor N use efficiency of agricultural crop. Intensive agricultural practices therefore are major anthropogenic interference that disrupt natural N cycle, leading to severe environmental hazards in the form of acid rain, smog, eutrophication, ozone depletion, and global warming. Monitoring contribution of agriculture to global N pollution is essential to raise awareness and adopt mitigation measures to ensure environmental sustainability of the production system. Attempts have been made to prepare farm-, region-, and country-specific inventories of N leaching, N2O, and NH3 emission separately, though data on the contribution of agriculture is associated with its inherent uncertainties and biases. Recently, nitrogen footprint approach has been identified as a potential tool to estimate N flow from various sectors such as industry, transport, and agriculture. These tools also provide options of developing strategies for reducing N footprint over a time period. The objectives of this chapter are to comprehensively discuss the contribution of agricultural activity to reactive N flow and analyze the scope of using N footprint tools for comparative assessment of environmental sustainability of various crop management practices.

Keywords

Nitrogen Nitrogen footprint N cycle N pollution Water pollution 

Abbreviations

AP

Acidification potential

ATP

Adenosine triphosphate

EEFs

Enhanced efficiency fertilizers

EP

Eutrophication potential

Gt

Gigatonnes

GWP

Global warming potential

MCL

Maximum contaminant level

Mt.

Metric tons

N2O

Nitrous oxide

NH3

Ammonia

NO

Nitric oxide

NO2

Nitrogen dioxide

ODP

Ozone depletion potential

POCP

Photochemical ozone creation potential

SIA

Secondary inorganic aerosols

SSNM

Site-specific nutrient management

Tg

Teragrams

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sangita Mohanty
    • 1
  • Chinmaya Kumar Swain
    • 1
  • Anjani Kumar
    • 1
  • A. K. Nayak
    • 1
  1. 1.National Rice Research InstituteCuttackIndia

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