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Carlo Leifert S Aconf2010
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Carlo Leifert S Aconf2010

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Presentation from Carlo Leifert (Newcastle University) at the Soil Association annual conference 4 February 2010, The Custard Factory, Birmingham

Presentation from Carlo Leifert (Newcastle University) at the Soil Association annual conference 4 February 2010, The Custard Factory, Birmingham

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Carlo Leifert S Aconf2010 Carlo Leifert S Aconf2010 Presentation Transcript

  • Food Security What will limit crop yields in the future? Availability and costs of: Nitrogen (N = energy) Phosphorus (P) Potassium (K) COMMUNITY RESEARCH
  • Mineral N-fertiliser, energy use and carbon footprint of food production
    • 1 kg Nitrogen-fertiliser = 36,000kJ = 1 L fuel
    • 1 kg nitrogen fertiliser ( NH 3 NO 3 ) fertiliser
    • = 2.38 kg CO 2 (equivalents of CO 2 , CH 4 and N 2 O)
    • Nafferton Farm = 100 ha cereals x 200 kg N/ha/annum
    • = 20,000 Liter fuel
    • = 47,600 kg CO 2 into the atmosphere per annum for just the wheat crop on one English farm
  • Why and when will Phosphorus become a bottleneck for crop yield?
    • Phosphorus fertiliser is a mined mineral
    • World reserves* are estimated at: 4 - 8 B t
    • Annual extraction rates are approx.: 125 M t
    • Period of time that currently known world deposits are estimated to last for 1 :
      • Pessimistic: 30-40 years
      • Optimistic: 60-90 years
    • * Based on estimated P-rock deposits with a minimum of 10% P
    1 Fantel et al. (1985) Natural resources forum 9 :5-24
  • Nutrients limiting wheat yield in 1900 and 2000 and predicted 2100 yields without P-fertilisation Estimated wheat yield potential (t ha-1) 3 t ha -1 9 t ha -1 4 t ha -1 Yield potential associated with different nutrients:
  • Are we using Phosphorus and other mineral fertilisers efficiently?
    • Agricultural intensification over the last 40 years is estimated to have resulted in:
      • a 2 fold increase in global food production 1
      • a 5-7 fold increase in mineral NPK use 1
      • resulting in a 2-3 fold reduction in nutrient use efficiency of crop production
      • 2-3 times as much NPK is needed to produce a kg of food than 40 years ago
    1 Hirel et al. (2007) Journal of Experimental Botany 58: 2369-2387
  • What is the solution/way forward?
    • The main approaches available are:
    • More efficient recycling of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and other mineral via
      • animal and green manures,
      • crop residues, food processing waste
      • communal and domestic organic waste
      • human toilet waste/sewage
    • Reduction of losses of N,P and K from soils
    • Breeding of nutrient (NPK) use efficient crop varieties
      • EU NUE-CROPS project
  • Thank you