“Greener” Grass

Grasslands cover 40% of earth, some of that grass cover is from agriculture. It is noted that 14% of greenhouse gases come from agricultural land, in the form of cows that pasture. So researchers have tried to ‘green’ up agriculture by breeding plants that cut the emissions associated with wasted fertilizer. Agriculture’s climate problem is a nitrogen-fertilizer problem. Fertilizer contains ammonium (NH4+); when it is first laid down, this positively charged ion stays put in the soil, sticking to negatively charged clay particles. But then nitrifying soil bacteria go to work, wreaking environmental havoc. The solution scientists have come up with is to develop low-emissions grasses, such as Brachiaria grasses. I find it interesting that scientists are using genes to come up with positive solutions to curb green house gas emissions, as well as teaching farmers to apply less fertilizer. I think that the future is going to be filled with innovative solutions, as technology improves.

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One Response to “Greener” Grass

  1. sgetz2013 says:

    Ammonium does not “stay put in the soil.” Though clay particles are negatively charged they simply attract the positive Hydrogen atom while the fibrous root-hairs adhere to the negative Nitrogen atoms. Ammonium NH4+ and Nitrate (NO3) are the only forms of nitrogen available to plants in mineral form. When applied correctly, absolutely no residue is left in the soil. Also, sulfate of Ammonium (the most common form of Ammonium) is relinquished within the soil in no more than 2 weeks if left overt at all. The problem with nitrates therefore is not the nitrates themselves but poor practice by homeowners and farmers.

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