Category Archives: Nitrogen

Food for Thought: Towards Circular Nutrient Economy in Agriculture

Agriculture is facing a major challenge of feeding the growing world population. Since the green revolution, the abundant use of fertilizers has been widely regarded as a fundamental tool to address this challenge. Switzerland’s agriculture, on average, has used excessive amounts of fertilizers at relatively low efficiency, indicating the need to improve the nutrient use efficiency of Swiss agricultural production.

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Food for Thought: Towards Circular Nutrient Economy in Agriculture

Agriculture is facing a major challenge of feeding the growing world population. Since the green revolution, the abundant use of fertilizers has been widely regarded as a fundamental tool to address this challenge. Switzerland’s agriculture, on average, has used excessive amounts of fertilizers at relatively low efficiency, indicating the need to improve the nutrient use efficiency of Swiss agricultural production.
In this article we present a thought experiment on how to close nitrogen- and nutrient-cycles in Swiss agriculture and thus foster a more sustainable fertilization.

Radek Zenkl, Andreas Berlepsch-Valendas, Frank Liebisch (2024). Food for Thought: Towards Circular Nutrient Economy in Agriculture. Download the report (PDF)

The report was written during seminar: „Sustainable Plant Systems“ (551-0209-00L) at ETH Zurich in 2023.

Can nitrogen balances support the sustainability assessment?

Anna Hunkeler1, Anja Schmutz2, Carole A. Epper3

1  Department of Biology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 2 Institute of Agricultural Sciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, 3Agroscope, Switzerland

Nitrogen balances uncover the potential negative environmental impact of a certain agricultural management at a defined scale, here at the farm level, and can also illustrate where the farm is positioned in the sustainability transition pathway.

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In the report, the authors explored the strengths and weaknesses of the nitrogen balance approach and data availability for Switzerland, conceptualized the nutrient balance of two contrasting farm systems and discussed them in the frame of the sustainability assessment.

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