Reducing emissions from fertilizer application

When considering GHG emissions from fertilizer use, the focus should be on relative emissions of agricultural crops grown with the assistance of fertilizers. Zero losses are not an achievable goal given that we are dealing with natural biological processes; but it is important for plant nutrient sources to be carefully managed and applied according to crop- and site-specific needs to achieve the “triple wins” of food security, environmental protection, and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Nutrient use efficiency i.e., the proportion of nutrients applied from all sources that are taken up by the crop, is a useful indicator the efficiency of fertilizer management, while minimizing environmental losses. Low output/input ratios often reflect risks of nutrient losses to the environment, while high ratios, above 100 percent, reflect soil nutrient mining practices that reduce soil fertility if practiced over several years. Both cases are unsustainable.

The fertilizer industry therefore promotes the science-based Principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Nutrient Source, at the Right Rate, at the Right Time, in the Right Place), as they match nutrient supply with crop requirements to optimize yields while minimizing losses to the environment.

Learn more:

Understanding and Managing Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Agricultural Soils


15 January 2021

IFA Submission on Koronivia topic: improved nutrient use

IFA Submission on Koronivia topic: improved nutrient use

Submission of the International Fertilizer Association to the UNFCCC Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture
Topic 2.d: Improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

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Regional Nutrient Use Efficiency Trends and Sustainable Fertilizer Management

Regional Nutrient Use Efficiency Trends and Sustainable Fertilizer Management

This paper is based on the Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) trends of six countries with different profiles (Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Nigeria and USA) and provides key insights about factors that could potentially favour or hinder fertilizer management improvements across different regions.

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IFA Publications

Estimating & Reporting Fertilizer-Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Accounting for Mitigation of N-fertiliser Emissions at National and Project Scales
Submission to the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture
Fertilizers and low emission development in sub-Saharan Africa
The Role of Fertilizers in Climate Smart Agriculture