Skip to main content

Satellite study finds ammonia hotspots over agricultural areas (downtoearth,)

A satellite study of airborne ammonia gas has revealed four major hotspots over productive agricultural regions across the world. Increased atmospheric ammonia is linked to poor air and water quality.

Using data from NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder satellite instrument, researchers led by the University of Maryland (UMD), discovered increased ammonia concentrations from 2002 to 2016 over agricultural centres in the US, Europe, China and India. The study was published last month in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

Harmful effects

Increased ammonia is linked to fertilizers, livestock animal wastes, changes in atmospheric chemistry and warming soils that retain less ammonia.

Gaseous ammonia is a natural part of the Earth’s nitrogen cycle, but excessive ammonia is harmful to plants, the study adds. Ammonia gas can also fall back to Earth and waterbodies, where it contributes to harmful algal blooms and “dead zones” with dangerously low oxygen levels.

“To control ammonia-related pollution, it is necessary to regulate fertilizer waste and agricultural residue burning. Increase in fertilizer use is the leading cause behind the increase of gaseous ammonia in the atmosphere. Except for a few countries in Europe, ammonia emission is not regulated. There is a growing awareness on how ammonia in the atmosphere affects the ecosystem and air and water quality, Juying Warner, associate research scientist in atmospheric and oceanic science at UMD, told Down To Earth.

According to researchers, the study results could help formulate strategies to control ammonia pollution near major agricultural areas.

Bad news for India

According to Warner, the ammonia concentration in the atmosphere over India is the highest in the world due to cattle population and excessive fertilizer use. “This will contribute to increased air quality problems,” she warned.

The use of nitrogen fertilizers has grown worldwide, contributing to the growing demand for food. Where fertilizers are subsided, the regulation of the fertilizer use is the biggest challenge.

“Subsidies lead to low price of fertilizers, farmers also tend to over-apply because they don’t want to take the risk of low yields,” Aimable Uwizeye, Food and Agriculture Organization expert, says.

According to Uwizeye, the best ways to reduce ammonia emissions are improvement in manure management system, reduction of excessive nitrogen in animal diets and recycling of manure in crop systems. Storage of manure with minimum risk of run-off and seepage as well as prevention of leaching to water bodies and riparian buffer zones is necessary to reduce ammonia emissions.

In India, we can try to improve the digestibility of protein compound in animal feed to reduce ammonia emissions. Uwizeye adds one should prioritise nitrogen use efficiency in livestock systems, identify hotspots and explore country-specific approaches to reduce ammonia pollution.

Popular posts from this blog

SC asks Centre to strike a balance on Rohingya issue (.hindu)

Supreme Court orally indicates that the government should not deport Rohingya “now” as the Centre prevails over it to not record any such views in its formal order, citing “international ramifications”.

The Supreme Court on Friday came close to ordering the government not to deport the Rohingya.

It finally settled on merely observing that a balance should be struck between humanitarian concern for the community and the country's national security and economic interests.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, one filed by persons within the Rohingya community, against a proposed move to deport over 40,000 Rohingya refugees. A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, began by orally indicating that the government should not deport Rohingya “now”, but the government prevailed on the court to not pass any formal order, citing “international ramifications”. With this, the status quo continues even though the court gave the community liberty to approach it in …

Khar’s experimentation with Himalayan nettle brings recognition (downtoearth)

Nature never fails to surprise us. In many parts of the world, natural resources are the only source of livelihood opportunities available to people. They can be in the form of wild shrubs like Daphne papyracea and Daphne bholua (paper plant) that are used to make paper or Gossypium spp (cotton) that forms the backbone of the textile industry.

Nothing can compete with the dynamism of biological resources. Recently, Girardinia diversifolia (Himalayan nettle), a fibre-yielding plant, has become an important livelihood option for people living in the remote mountainous villages of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

There is a community in Khar, a hamlet in Darchula district in far-western Nepal, which produces fabrics from Himalayan nettle. The fabric and the things made from it are sold in local as well as national and international markets as high-end products.

A Himalayan nettle value chain development initiative implemented by the Kailash Sacred Landscape Conservation and Development Initiati…

India’s criminal wastage: over 10 million works under MGNREGA incomplete or abandoned (hindu)

In the last three and half years, the rate of work completion under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has drastically declined, leading to wastage of public money and leaving villages more prone to drought. This could also be a reason for people moving out of the programme.

At a time when more than one-third of India’s districts are reeling under a drought-like situation due to deficit rainfall, here comes another bad news. The works started under the MGNREGA—close to 80 per cent related to water conservation, irrigation and land development—are increasingly not being completed or in practice, abandoned.

Going by the data (as on October 12) in the Ministry of Rural Development’s website, which tracks progress of MGNREGA through a comprehensive MIS, 10.4 million works have not been completed since April 2014. In the last three and half years, 39.7 million works were started under the programme. Going by the stipulation under the programme, close to 7…