From Field to Table: A Systems Approach to Increase N Efficiency and Limit N Losses

Saturday, February 13, 2016: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Wilson A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Jan Willem Erisman, Louis Bolk Institute, Driebergen, Utrecht, Netherlands
Nitrogen is essential for food production. With the invention of the Haber-Bosch process, nitrogen limitation in agriculture has been solved. However, the use of chemical fertilizer has overtaken biological processes and led to negative environmental impacts. The nitrogen use efficiency in the whole food chain decreased worldwide due to changes in agricultural practices and food processing. The associated impacts include all environmental effects, biodiversity loss, climate change and human health effects. The societal costs related to these effects in Europe are similar to the added value for the agricultural primary sector. Reducing nitrogen impacts requires increasing the on-farm nitrogen use efficiency (e.g., by reinforcing the biological system, rotating and recycling of N), a more evenly distribution of nitrogen by smart intensification in areas where there is nitrogen shortage and smart extensification in areas where there is nitrogen excess, improvements over the supply chain (e.g., reducing food waste), and changing diets.