Nov. 18, 2013 — Farmers may be able to help reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) by incorporating copper into crop fertilization processes -- according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
Lead researcher Prof David Richardson, from UEA's school of Biological Sciences, said: "The increase in nitrous oxide in the atmosphere is largely the result of changing agricultural practices to more intensive, large scale production systems. Rapid population growth and the constant need for greater crop yields have fueled the change.
"Agricultural N2O emissions have increased significantly and continue to rise. It is a big problem because it is a potent greenhouse gas. Molecule for molecule its potential to cause global warming is 300 times more than carbon dioxide. And it is behind almost one tenth of global radiative forcing by greenhouse gasses. But how to regulate these emissions has been poorly understood until now."
"Farmed soil is a prime example of such a condition, and what happens is that bacteria respire nitrate as a substitute for oxygen. We found that the gene in nitrate-utilizing soil bacteria, responsible for the destruction of nitrous oxide, can be regulated when copper is added.
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