Author: Professor Vaclav Smil

Nitrogen cycle and world food production

Professor Vaclav Smil
Summary In the biosphere nitrogen has the most complex cycle of all circulating elements. Its incessant reuse makes life on Earth possible. Traditional agricultures supplied limited amounts of the nutrient by recycling organic wastes and by planting leguminous crops. Only the Haber-Bosch synthesis of ammonia, first commercialised in 1913, removed this key constraint on crop productivity. Global agriculture has become steadily more dependent on synthetic nitrogenous compounds …