Planetary boundaries. A presentation also in farm journals.

 A report by internationally renowned scientists give tentative figures for ecological boundaries. One of those is inflow of active nitrogen to the global ecosystems. The current figure is 121 million tons (fertilizers plus biological fixation). The tentative threshold value is 35, less than a third. The fertilizer nitrogen is currently a little below 100 million tons and the demand is projected to increase by 3 million tons every year. Increasing population  gives increasing demands.

Maybe some shake up is needed.

The figure 35 says nothing about how to manage food production, it is just an estimate of  a safe value for the global ecosystems.

However, we get another reminder of tough challenges ahead:

Efficient nitrogen use in agriculture. There are improvements, but not enough.

The animal production. The most inefficient production in ecological terms is the most fast-growing. There will be questions about this. But cheese and beef and bacon are valued.

The nitrogen in waste. The main aim of agriculture is food to man. The annual nitrogen turnover is about 10 kg per person. The 9 million Swedes release 90 thousand tons of N, to be compared to 160 as mineral fertilizer and in total about 120 released from farm animals, of which 40 is directly wasted as ammonia. There are efforts to reduce losses, but so far very little nitrogen except manure is recycled.

Maybe, for waste nitrogen, an alternative is to denitrify it to nitrogen gas and get fresh active nitrogen by industrial or biological fixation.  It depends on energy relations and emissions. Which is best?


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