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The Evolving Sphere of Food Security$
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Rosamond L. Naylor

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199354054

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199354054.001.0001

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Agricultural Nutrient Use and Its Environmental Consequences

Agricultural Nutrient Use and Its Environmental Consequences

(p.269) 10 Agricultural Nutrient Use and Its Environmental Consequences
The Evolving Sphere of Food Security

Peter M. Vitousek

Pamela A. Matson

Oxford University Press

Industrial fertilizers will be used extensively for the foreseeable future as many countries seek to increase yields on their more productive agricultural lands. At the same time, industrial fertilizer is the largest source of transformation in the global cycles of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), and altering these cycles has substantial human and environmental costs. This interaction produces an irreducible conflict: there is no way to produce sufficient food for over 7 billion people without changing, and in some significant ways degrading, the environment locally, regionally, and even globally. This chapter explores pathways to reduce the conflict, using case material from two rapidly developing economies—Mexico and China—where a large fraction of the nutrients added to agriculture never reach the intended crop targets. Based on long-term research involvement in these regions, the chapter explores how “win-win,” efficiency-based solutions can be promoted that benefit both farmers and the environment.

Keywords:   nitrogen, phosphorous, biogeochemical cycles, fertilizer policy, Green Revolution, Yaqui Valley Mexico, North China Plain

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