Using nitrogen more efficiently can be easier said than done. In 2013, more than 150 experts, from farmers to environmental scientists, met at a conference to discuss how to promote better management of fertilizers and manures to cut “nitrogen pollution while still enabling modern agriculture to meet the growing demand for affordable food and biofuels.” The result? The Kansas City Consensus on Nitrogen Use Efficiency (PDF).
Unfortunately, widespread adoption of existing and emerging technologies is stymied by many economic and social barriers. While one study of Wisconsin dairy farms showed more nitrogen fed to cows can stay in the milk and less in the manure, another indicated that farmers see high economic risk in applying too little nitrogen. More partnerships between stakeholders, continuing education for retailers and crop advisors, and investments in research are among the recommendations outlined in a new brochure promoting the Kansas City Consensus (PDF).