- Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment
- High Meadows Environmental Institute
Present nitrogen management in agriculture appears to have serious flaws, reflected in poor nitrogen use efficiency, massive nitrogen leakage into the environment, and contamination of waterbodies and the atmosphere. Modern production systems have become “nitrate-centric” (where >95% of nitrogen uptake is from soil nitrates).
Hyper-soil-nitrifier-activity is the cause of most nitrogen problems in agriculture. Regulation of soil-nitrifier activity and lowering of soil-nitrate formation will facilitate “more ammonium” in crop nutrition (and provide a more balanced nitrogen-forms for crop uptake) that improves productivity and will have associated environmental benefits.
Novel approaches and new agricultural technologies are needed for developing low-nitrifying production systems - a foundation for the next Green Revolution. Exploiting the natural nitrification inhibitor production ability of plant root systems (biological nitrification inhibition, BNI) is central to this approach. Crop science research and policy support is needed to shift the present nitrate-centric crop nutrition towards “more ammonium-centric”. BNI-enabled crop varieties will be central to develop low-nitrifying production systems that drives the next Green Revolution, which demands doubling of food production without additional nitrogen inputs by 2050 - is the theme of this seminar/talk.
Dr. Guntur V. Subbarao is currently a senior research scientist and group leader for the BNI (biological nitrification inhibition) research team at JIRCAS, Japan (2001-present). His group has undertaken pioneering research since 2001 to generate in-depth understanding of BNI-function in plants and to develop this knowledge into production technology (BNI-technology) to reduce N-losses and improve NUE of production systems.
Subbarao has published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles, including one book, 12 book chapters, several major research reviews and research articles in high impact journals including PNAS. He has organized 3 International BNI symposiums (2014, 2016, 2018) and acted as an editorial board member for the journal Plant and Soil from 2008 to 2012. He holds three patents on nitrification inhibitors.
His research group's ongoing collaborative research partnerships include Princeton University (USA), CIAT (Colombia), ICRISAT (India), CIMMYT (Mexico), Rothamsted Research (UK), University of Vienna (Vienna), IEES (Paris), SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden), and Texas A&M (College Station, USA), to develop genetic and crop-management strategies for exploiting BNI function in pasture grasses and in major field crops (sorghum, wheat and maize).
Subbarao obtained an M.Tech and Ph.D from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kharagpur, India). He worked as a Post-doctoral fellow for two years at Crop Science Department of University of Saskatchewan (Canada). Through a prestigious US National Research Council fellowship, he worked as a team member (NASA-NRC fellow) of the Advanced Life Support (ALS) systems group at NASA-Kennedy Space Center for two and half years.