Air Pollution

What is Nitrogen-Use Efficiency (NUE)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NUE, Nitrogen's GHG potential

Mains level : Nitrogen pollution

A group of Indian scientists have found a way to improve crops by reducing wastage of nitrogen fertilizers applied to them.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following adds/add nitrogen to the soil?

  1. Excretion of Urea by animals
  2. Burning of coal by man
  3. Death of vegetation

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2, and 3

Nitrogen-Use Efficiency

  • NUE is calculated as a ratio between nitrogen used and harvest: A higher number denotes low wastage.
  • With the efficiency on the decline, farmers use more fertiliser in the hope of raising yield. This in turn worsens NUE.
  • Crops generally use up 30 per cent of nitrogen fertilizer applied; the rest seeps into the environment, harming health and adding to climate change.
  • Researchers were able to identify phenotypes or visibly identifiable features that determine the efficiency with which cultivated rice varieties (cultivars) use nitrogen.
  • This efficiency is known as nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE).
  • Cereals consume over 69 per cent of nitrogen fertilizers in India; rice tops the list with 37 per cent, followed by wheat (24 per cent).

Nitrogen Pollution: the reason behind

  • Agriculture leads to 70 per cent of nitrous oxide emissions in India.
  • Of this, 77 per cent is contributed by fertilizers, mostly urea, according to the Indian Nitrogen Assessment published in 2017.
  • This greenhouse gas (GHG) is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
  • It has replaced methane as the second-largest component of GHG emissions from Indian agriculture in the past 15 years.

Must read:

[Burning Issue] Nitrogen Pollution in India

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