Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Synthetic Fertilizers Are Heating the Planet. But There's an Alternative.

Climate
Synthetic Fertilizers Are Heating the Planet. But There's an Alternative.
Pexels

From raising livestock to growing vegetables, farmers help put food on our plates. But agriculture also creates emissions that warm the climate. And the most warming is caused by nitrous oxide, an especially potent global warming gas.


"The use of synthetic fertilizers is the biggest source of nitrous oxide emissions," said Lauren Snyder, an education and research program manager with the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

"Fertilizers are basically providing a form of nitrogen to the plant," she said. "And so when you add that to the soil, a lot of it is lost to the atmosphere as nitrous oxide."

But she says that farmers can reduce those emissions by changing some of their practices.

For example, she recommends planting cover crops in the offseason instead of leaving fields bare. Some cover crops can reduce the need for fertilizer because they naturally fix nitrogen in the soil.

"Legume cover crops are excellent at taking atmospheric nitrogen and putting it in the soil in the form that plants can use. And so that's another way that we can provide fertility to plants," Synder said. "And it doesn't result in the same kind of pulse of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere."

So by enriching soil naturally, farmers can also help reduce global warming.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

A sea turtle rescued from Israel's devastating oil spill. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP via Getty Images

Rescue workers in Israel are using a surprising cure to save the sea turtles harmed by a devastating oil spill: mayonnaise!

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A "digital twin of Earth." European Space Agency

As the weather grows more severe, and its damages more expensive and fatal, current weather predictions fall short in providing reliable information on Earth's rapidly changing systems.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice in places such as Greenland could stop a critical ocean current. Paul Souders / Getty Images

The climate crisis could push an important ocean current past a critical tipping point sooner than expected, new research suggests.

Read More Show Less
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tours the Chevron oil field west of Bakersfield, where a spill of more than 900,000 gallons flowed into a dry creek bed, on July 24, 2019. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.

Read More Show Less
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Kenyan professor Wangari Maathai poses during the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 15, 2009. Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images

By Kate Whiting

From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.

Read More Show Less