New report explores the risks of a disrupted nitrogen cycle

  • Last updated: 16 September 2022

The Soil Association has launched a new report: Fixing Nitrogen, exploring the risks a disrupted nitrogen cycle poses to our future, tackling big unanswered questions and presenting solutions that could fix the nitrogen problem. Many gardeners know the importance of capturing and recycling natural nitrogen sources. Indeed, nitrogen is essential for life on earth and vital for food and farming. In excess, however, nitrogen becomes a damaging pollutant threatening climate, nature and human health.

Sam Packer, report author at the Soil Association said; “Our rivers, seas, land and air have become overloaded with reactive nitrogen. As a consequence, the nitrous oxide emissions from farming have been ticking up, it has become a significant and overlooked climate change driver while methane has attracted all the attention. We must dramatically reduce nitrogen use and pollution if we are to reach our net-zero climate targets and shift from the use of synthetic fertilisers to closed-loop approaches to nutrient use. This should be a priority for the CoP 26 climate conference in Glasgow next year.”

The report highlights that major disruptive events have emphasised the vulnerable nature of food and farming supplies. Governments have shown they are prepared to make rapid interventions on food access, availability and distribution. This should be taken as a signal that it is politically possible to intervene in transitioning towards sustainable and resilient farm systems. To tackle climate change, protect ecosystems and enhance human health, the report argues that we must act fast to close nutrient loops and reduce nitrogen input.

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