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276. Remove excess fertilizer and keep the Earth healthy!

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Crops that humans eat to live need fertilizer to grow. Fertilizer contains nitrogen necessary for crop growth. Living creatures also need it to breathe, as 78% of the air is made up of nitrogen. In other words, humans need nitrogen to live.

On the other hand, it would be nice if the crops could use all of the applied nitrogen fertilizer (in the form of ammonia), but in reality, only about 50% of the fertilizer is absorbed and utilized by crops to grow. What about the other half? Ammonia changes to "nitric acid" and separates from soil particles due to "nitrification" of soil microorganisms. The nitric acid then flows out of the farmland and pollutes the groundwater. In addition, nitric acid is also released into the atmosphere in the form of "nitrous oxide," which has a greenhouse effect 310 times that of carbon dioxide.

How can we stop the "waste of nitrogen fertilizer" and "global environmental problems" caused by this excessive nitrification?

JIRCAS focuses on the ability of crops to suppress nitrification, and is searching for substances that suppress nitrification from crops. Through this research, we aim to develop environment-friendly super corn, which is the most widely produced crop in the world.

For more details on the connection between humans and fertilizers, nitrification, and the technology for suppressing nitrification, please watch the video.

Reference

JIRCAS Online Open House 2021

https://www.jircas.go.jp/en/event/2021/openhouse

Contributor: OTAKA Junnosuke (Biological Resources and Post-harvest Division)