nitrogen-based fertilizers.The findings have been published in the journal Nature Food.Lead researcher Dr. Max Grell, who helped develop the technology at Imperial College London’s Department of Bioengineering, said: “It’s difficult to overstate the problem of overfertilization both environmentally and economically. Yields and resulting income are down year by year, and growers don’t currently have the tools they need to combat this.
ADVERTISEMENT “Our technology could help to tackle this problem by empowering growers to know how much ammonia and nitrate are currently in soil and to predict how much there will be in the future based on weather conditions. This could let them fine-tune fertilization to the specific needs of the soil and crops.”Excess nitrogen fertilizer dramatically contributes to the environmental crisis. It releases the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Unused fertilizer also runs off into waterways and depletes oxygen levels in lakes and rivers. Algal blooms thrive in this deoxygenated environment, choking marine life and reducing biodiversity.Without technology, it’s difficult for farmers to assess how much fertilizer they need for crops accurately. Farmers have to send soil samples to laboratories to measure soil nitrogen.
Most farmers avoid this lengthy, costly process since the results aren’t applicable after a certain amount of time.That’s where soil sensors come in; this technology would reduce soil-testing costs and improve efficiency. While chemPEGS only measures ammonium levels, it can also predict current and future nitrate levels in the soil.Senior author and principal investigator Dr. Firat Guder from Imperial’s Department of
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