Video: Fixing Nitrogen
To feed a growing planet, some propose scaling up organic farming rather than relying on synthetic fertilizers. Yet without synthetic fertilizers, farms need to grow additional crops — legumes — to provide nitrogen, and these require extra land. This "shadow land footrpint" of organic farming and other agricultural systems that don't use synthetic fertilizer is crucial to understand.
In a new essay in The Future of Food series, Breakthrough's Dan Blaustein-Rejto and Linus Blomqvist demonstrate how continuing to use synthetic nitrogen, albeit more efficiently and wisely, will be key to growing more food with minimal environmental impact.