A Balanced Diet: Agricultural Productivity and Sustainable Nitrogen and Phosphorous Use

The first major symposium of Plant Biology 2017, organized by Michael Udvardi of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, is titled “Away from the Brink – Towards the Sustainable Use of N and P in Agriculture”. Session attendees will be presented with a range of creative solutions for ensuring continued agricultural productivity while managing nitrogen and phosphorous use.

In the face of an increasing world population, agricultural productivity is vital to avoid global food shortages. The Green Revolution, in addition to breeding more compact, high-yielding plant varieties, promoted the use of industrial nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers to maximize yields. However, their increased use is considered unsustainable because of potential supply limits, the huge energy costs required to fix N2 to ammonia through the Haber-Bosch process, and the environmental impact of fertilizer loss. Research-based solutions are required for the improved management of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers in agriculture.

In this symposium, a range of speakers will discuss current research into the scope of the problem and address impediments to efficient and responsible use of phosphorous and nitrogen inputs. Philip Robertson from Michigan State University will compare the benefits of nitrogen in agriculture to its significant costs, and detail best-practice solutions. Helen Jarvie from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK, will explore the role that phosphorus plays in water, bio-energy, and food security. Jonathan Lynch from Penn State University will describe how nutrients may be better assimilated by crop plants through root trait selection. Lastly, John Peters from Washington State University will discuss synthetic diazotrophs to supply nitrogen to crop plants via biological nitrogen fixation.

“Away from the Brink – Towards the Sustainable Use of N and P in Agriculture” will be held 1:00PM – 3:30 PM Saturday, June 24, at Plant Biology 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Registration is open now. For more information and a full list of the multidisciplinary sessions on offer, visit Plant Biology 2017.

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