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Alternatives to the use of nitrate as a fertiliser

In order to develop sustainable agricultural production, what is required is a study of nitrogenated sources as alternatives to the nitrates that predominate in agricultural soils and that have a greater contaminant capacity. The current use of nitrates as a nitrogenated fertiliser in intensive farming has given rise to environmental problems such as the contamination of water or the degradation of the ozone layer. There are also health problems such as deficiencies in the oxygenation of blood in breast-feeding mothers or the accumulation of nitrosamines, substances that are said to be cancerous, in the adult stomach. This is why it is necessary to find a balance between agricultural productivity and quality crops, while maintaining environmental conditions.

These are the conclusions of Mª Dolores Domínguez Valdivia of the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Public University of Navarre in her PhD thesis entitled, Mechanisms of tolerance to ammonium in plants of agronomic interest.

The study is within the framework of research being carried out by researchers at the Public University of Navarre in this field and which has enabled new data to be obtained about the response mechanisms of various plant species arising from the stress produced as a result of the use of exclusively ammoniacal fertilisers. Stress in this sense is understood as the processes that produce a decrease in plant growth and thereby the productivity of crops. A thorough knowledge of these questions enables a more rational use of fertilisers in farming.

Research for sustainable farming

The possibility of using animal ammonium or urea as nitrogenated sources from certain plants enables the study of these forms of nitrogen as an alternative to nitrates. Nevertheless, ammonium, despite being the most respectful with the environment, does not produce the same growth in most crop plants as that when nitrate is used as a fertiliser. The studies carried out
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Source:Elhuyar Fundazioa


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