Fertilizing Nature: A Tragedy of Excess in the Commons

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Globally, we are applying excessive nitrogen (N) fertilizers to our agricultural crops, which ultimately causes nitrogen pollution to our ecosphere. The atmosphere is polluted by N2O and NOx gases that directly and indirectly increase atmospheric warming and climate change. Nitrogen is also leached from agricultural lands as the water-soluble form NO3-, which increases nutrient overload in rivers, lakes, and oceans, causing ‘‘dead zones’’, reducing property values and the diversity of aquatic life, and damaging our drinking water and aquatic-associated industries such as fishing and tourism. Why do some countries show reductions in fertilizer use while others show increasing use? What N fertilizer application reductions could occur, without compromising crop yields? And what are the economic and environmental benefits of using directed nutrient management strategies?

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    Article (Published)
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  • License
    © 2011 Good, Beatty. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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    • Good, A. G., & Beatty, P. H. (2011). Fertilizing Nature: A Tragedy of Excess in the Commons. PLoS Biology, 9(8), 9. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001124