Legume versus fertilizer sources of nitrogen: Ecological tradeoffs and human needs
MetadataShow full item record
During the 20th century, farmers around the world replaced legume rotations and other traditional sources of nitrogen (N) fertility with synthetic N fertilizers. A sizable percentage of the human population now depends on synthetic N fertilizers for survival. In recent decades, N fertilizers have been linked to numerous environmental hazards including marine eutrophication, global warming, groundwater contamination, and stratospheric ozone destruction. Some researchers suggest that legumes, which can support biological N2 fixation, offer a more environmentally sound and sustainable source of N to cropping systems. This perspective is countered by researchers who argue that, (1) legume-derived N has equally negative environmental impacts as the N derived from synthetic fertilizers, and (2) the human population now exceeds the carrying capacity of agricultural systems that depend on legumes for N inputs. In this review, we compare the sustainability of obtaining N from legume versus industrial sources in terms of ecological integrity, energetics and food security. We conclude that obtaining N from legumes is potentially more sustainable than from industrial sources. We further suggest that while some countries are fundamentally dependent on synthetic N for food production, many countries have the capacity to greatly reduce or eliminate dependence on synthetic N through adoption of less meat-intensive diets, and reduction of food waste. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
IFA; Food and Agriculture Organization (Rome: FAO and IFA (International Fertilizer Industry Association), 2000)This handbook was prepared originally for use by extension officers working for the FAO Fertilizer Programme. The first edition was published in 1965, third edition was published in 1978, reprinted in 1986. For this new, ...
Marenya, P.P.; Barrett, C.B. (International Association of Agricultural Economists, 2009)Low fertilizer use perpetuates the slow yield growth in Sub Saharan Africa (in comparison to Asia and Latin America) as well as subsequent rates of hunger and malnutrition. Current models use primarily market-level factors ...
Wallace, M.B.; Knausenberger, W.I. (Washington, D.C.: USAID, 1997)The objective of this review is to synthesize the state of knowledge regarding the positive and potential negative impacts of fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), in the context of USAID and other assistance programs. ...