Fertilizers cause more than 2% of global emissions

2 O) calculated using different emission factors; (b) Direct regional soil emissions (TgN 2 O) calculated using different emission factors. Gray bars indicate the standard deviation. Credit: Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-022-18773-w” width=”800″ height=”341″/>

(a) Global direct emissions from soils (TgN2O) calculated using different emission factors; (b) Direct regional soil emissions (TgN2O) calculated using different emission factors. Gray bars indicate the standard deviation. attributed to him: Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-022-18773-w

New research shows that synthetic nitrogen fertilizers account for 2.1% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike organic fertilizers, which come from plant or animal materials, synthetic fertilizers are made by humans using chemical processes. Reason for production and transportation carbon emissionsWhile agricultural use of these fertilizers releases nitrous oxide (N2O) – a greenhouse gas 265 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2) more than a century.

The research team – from the Greenpeace Research Laboratories of the University of Exeter and the University of Turin – found that the synthetic nitrogen fertilizer supply chain was responsible for emitting the equivalent of 1.13 gigatons of carbon dioxide.2 in 2018.

This is more than 10% of global emissions From agriculture, more emissions than commercial aviation that year. The four largest emitting countries – China, India, the United States and the European Union 28 (EU countries plus the United Kingdom) – accounted for 62% of the total.

“There is no doubt that emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertilizers should be reduced – rather than increased, as is currently expected,” Dr. Reyes Tirado, of Greenpeace Research Laboratories.

“The global agricultural food system depends on increasing synthetic nitrogen Agricultural cropsBut the use of these fertilizers is not sustainable.”

“Emissions can be reduced without compromising food security. “

“At a time when synthetic fertilizer prices are skyrocketing, reflecting the energy crisis, reducing their use can benefit farmers and help us tackle the climate crisis.”

When nitrogen fertilizers are applied to the soil, some are absorbed by plants and some are used by soil microorganisms, which produce N₂O as a byproduct of their metabolism. Nitrogen can also end up leaching from the site.

The researchers say the most effective strategy to reduce emissions is to reduce over-fertilization – which is currently the case in most cases.

“We need a comprehensive scheme to reduce the overall use of fertilizers and increase the efficiency of nitrogen recycling in agricultural and food systems,” said Dr. Stefano Minegat, from the University of Turin.

“We can produce enough food for population growth With a much smaller contribution to Global greenhouse gas emissionswithout compromising the yield.”

Shifting dietary patterns toward reducing meat and dairy products could play a key role.

“Three-quarters of the nitrogen in crop production (expressed in terms of protein including bioenergy byproducts) is currently dedicated to livestock feed production globally.”

The study data showed, from 2018, that North America has the highest annual rate of nitrogen fertilizer use per capita (40 kg) followed by Europe (25-30 kg). Africa had the least use (2-3 kg).

The research team developed the largest field-level data set available on N.2O Soil emissions. Using this, they rated N at the national, regional and global level2O direct emission coefficients, while they used the existing literature to find the emission coefficients of indirect nitrogen2O Soil emissions, nitrogen fertilizer manufacture and transportation.

The paper was published in the journal Scientific Reports.


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more information:
Stefano Menegat et al, Greenhouse gas emissions from global production and use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in agriculture, Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-022-18773-w

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