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Scientists Develop Method to Reduce Farmers’ Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer

July 23, 2012

Scientist at Michigan State University are putting the finishing touches on a program that would pay farmers to apply less nitrogen fertilizer in a way that doesn't jeopardize yields.

The program, called the nitrous oxide greenhouse gas reduction methodology, is being conducted in partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute.

"This project is a great example of how long-term, fundamental research can contribute practical solutions to important environmental problems of concern in the U.S.--and ultimately around the world," says Matt Kane, an NSF program director for LTER.

In the United States, agriculture accounts for almost 70 percent of all nitrous oxide emissions linked with human activity. Nitrous oxide is one of the major gases contributing to human-induced climate change; it has a lifetime in the atmosphere of more than 100 years. In addition, a molecule of nitrous oxide has more than 300 times the heat-trapping effect in the atmosphere as a molecule of carbon dioxide.

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