Griffith Hack Clean & Sustainable Technologies

Will nitrogen emissions be the next environmental front? by Justin Blows
November 6, 2009, 8:45 am
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , ,

According to this article, the amount of nitrogen released into the environment, predominantly by fertiliser use, may exceed the planet’s ability to recycle it. 

The consequences are bleak, particularly for the worlds seas, oceans and rivers, which are starting to exhibit dead zones devoid of much life. The article argues that nitrogen is to water what carbon dioxide is to the atmosphere.


As this NASA site explains, enhanced phytoplankton blooms can create dead zones. Dead zones are areas of water so devoid of oxygen that sea life cannot live there. If phytoplankton productivity is enhanced by fertilizers or other nutrients, more organic matter is produced at the surface of the ocean. The organic matter sinks to the bottom, where bacteria break it down and release carbon dioxide. Bacteria thrive off excessive organic matter and absorb oxygen, the same oxygen that fish, crabs and other sea creatures rely on for life.

There appears to be massive opportunity for agricultural innovations that address this issue. 

Many of the agricultural methods developed may be patentable.  Like other clean technology areas such as hybrid cars and solar that we have investigated, it will be those that get into the field before it becomes a mainstream issue and patent first that will profit the most.

Justin Blows


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