Reducing Over-Fertilization

Jon Harper – jbh2175

Sustainability Issue: Fertilizer Eutrophication

            Fertilizer runoff from agriculture is a major contributor to the eutrophication (essentially creating too many nutrients) of waterways and the oceans.  This creates algal blooms which choke out other plant life and then die, and when they are decomposing the decomposers use up all of the available oxygen in the water creating hypoxic or even anoxic conditions, killing any aquatic life nearby.  Huge “dead zones” have been created just beyond the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico, and many other areas worldwide.

Technology: Non-toxic stabilizer “N-Protect”

When fertilizer is applied, bacteria will often use up part of it in a process called “Volitalization” which creates ammonia gas and causes the available nitrogen in the fertilizer to not reach the roots of the intended plants.  Because of this, excess fertilizer is used to get enough to the plants, and/or toxic stabilizers are used to make the nitrogen accessible to the plants but not the bacteria.

Solvay has come up with an alternative to this with their “N-Protect” product.  This is a stabilizer which is non-toxic, and does not have the foul odor that conventional stabilizers have.  It also has a higher efficacy than conventional stabilizers, at 50% instead of 30%.  This means that less fertilizer has to be applied, and that more is taken up by the intended plants.  Both mean less runoff into waterways and less volitalization into ammonia which then gets captured in the water cycle in clouds and rain, also ending up in rivers and oceans.

Stakeholders:

-Agriculture industry

-Fertilizer supply industry

-Fisheries

-Coastal and River-adjacent communities near ‘dead zones’

Implementation:

  1. Implement wider usage of the product
  2. Test rivers and ocean areas near applications to determine level of effectiveness at reducing eutrophication
  3. Consider legislation requiring a higher level of volitization reduction in fertilizers

https://www.solvay.com/en/innovation/news-and-events/how-make-fertilizer-use-more-sustainable

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