Rebalancing Global Nitrogen Management in Response to a Fertilizer and Food Security Crisis

Vulnerabilities of the global fuel-fertilizer-food nexus have been revealed by a regional geopolitical conflict causing sudden and massive supply disruptions. Across over- and under-fertilized agricultural systems, nitrogen (N) fertilizer price spikes will have very different effects and require differentiated responses. For staple cereal production in India, Ethiopia, and Malawi, our estimates of N-fertilizer savings show the value of integrated organic and inorganic N management. N-deficient systems benefit from shifting to more cost-effective, high-N fertilizer (such as urea), combined with compost and legumes. N-surplus systems achieve N savings through better targeted and more efficient N-fertilizer use. Globally, there is a need to re-balance access to N-fertilizers, while steering the right fertilizer to the right place, and managing N in combination with carbon through near-term interventions, while striving for longer-term sustainable management. Nationally, governments can invest in extension and re-align subsidies to enable and incentivize improved N management at the farm level.
Snapp, S., Sapkota, T., Chamberlin, J., Cox, C., Gameda, S., Jat, M., Marenya, P., Mottaleb, K., Negra, C., Senthilkumar, K., Sida, T., Singh, U., Stewart, Z., Tesfaye, K. and Govaerts, B. 2022. Rebalancing global nitrogen management in response to a fertilizer and food security crisis [Preprint]. In Review.