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Nutrient Imbalances in Agricultural Development


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This publication is a product of AGCI's 2008 "Managing the Cycles of Nitrogen and Phosphorus: Mitigation and Adaptation" workshop.

Author/Editor(s): Peter Vitousek, Rosamond Naylor, Tim Crews, Laurie Drinkwater, Elisabeth Holland, John Katzenberger


The overuse of synthetic fertilizers in some regions of the world has led to unintended negative environmental impacts, such as nitrogen-related air and water pollution. Meanwhile, in other regions of the globe, inadequate nutrient inputs have resulted in mass malnourishment. In this article, published in the 19 June 2009 edition of Science, 16 international ecology and agriculture experts compare fertilizer use in three corn-growing regions of the world -- northern China, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Midwestern United States -- and discuss the research needed to design more sustainable food production practices.


P. M. Vitousek, R. Naylor, T. Crews, M. B. David, L. E. Drinkwater, E. Holland, P. J. Johnes, J. Katzenberger, L. A. Martinelli, P. A. Matson, G. Nziguheba, D. Ojima, C. A. Palm, G. P. Robertson, P. A. Sanchez, A. R. Townsend, and F. S. Zhang Science 19 J