Nitrogen Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural and Environmental Science in India

Andrea Móring* (Corresponding Author), Sunila Hooda, Nandula Raghuram, Tapan Kumar Adhya, Altaf Ahmad, Sanjoy K. Bandyopadhyay, Tina Barsby, Gufran Beig, Alison R. Bentley, Arti Bhatia, Ulrike Dragosits, Julia Drewer, John Foulkes, Sachin D. Ghude, Rajeev Gupta, Niveta Jain, Dinesh Kumar, R. Mahender Kumar, Jagdish K. Ladha, Pranab Kumar MandalC. N. Neeraja, Renu Pandey, Himanshu Pathak, Pooja Pawar, Till K. Pellny, Philip Poole, Adam Price, D. L. N. Rao, David S. Reay, N. K. Singh, Subodh Kumar Sinha, Rakesh K. Srivastava, Peter Shewry, Jo Smith, Claudia E. Steadman* (Corresponding Author), Desiraju Subrahmanyam, Kuchi Surekha, Karnam Venkatesh, Varinderpal-Singh, Aimable Uwizeye, Massimo Vieno, Mark A. Sutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


In the last six decades, the consumption of reactive nitrogen (Nr) in the form of fertilizer in India has been growing rapidly, whilst the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) of cropping systems has been decreasing. These trends have led to increasing environmental losses of Nr, threatening the quality of air, soils, and fresh waters, and thereby endangering climate-stability, ecosystems, and human-health. Since it has been suggested that the fertilizer consumption of India may double by 2050, there is an urgent need for scientific research to support better nitrogen management in Indian agriculture. In order to share knowledge and to develop a joint vision, experts from the UK and India came together for a conference and workshop on “Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural Nitrogen Science in India.” The meeting concluded with three core messages: (1) Soil stewardship is essential and legumes need to be planted in rotation with cereals to increase nitrogen fixation in areas of limited Nr availability. Synthetic symbioses and plastidic nitrogen fixation are possibly disruptive technologies, but their potential and implications must be considered. (2) Genetic diversity of crops and new technologies need to be shared and exploited to reduce N losses and support productive, sustainable agriculture livelihoods. (3) The use of leaf color sensing shows great potential to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use (by 10–15%). This, together with the usage of urease inhibitors in neem-coated urea, and better management of manure, urine, and crop residues, could result in a 20–25% improvement in NUE of India by 2030.
Original languageEnglish
Article number505347
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Sustainable Food Systems
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding was provided by NEWS India-UK (BB/N013492/1), with contributions from CINTRIN (BB/N013441/1), INEW (BB/N013360/1) and IUNFC (BB/N013387/1) – all supported through the Newton-Bhabha Fund, by the UKRI and the Indian Department of Biotechnology –, as well as UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of SANH (NE/S009019/1, supported through UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund), and SUNRISE (NE/R000131/1). The conference was supported by INMS (‘‘Targeted research for improving understanding of the global nitrogen cycle towards the establishment of an International Nitrogen Management System (INMS)’’, 5400, supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Programme).
This paper is an outcome of the joint conference and workshop, Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural Nitrogen Science in India supported by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and INMS (Toward the Establishment of an International Nitrogen Management System). The authors are grateful for all the support they received for this overview paper from the four VJCs, under the lead of NEWS India-UK (BBSRC BB/N013492/1), with contributions from CINTRIN, INEW, and IUNFC, as well as the UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub, RySS and SUNRISE (Sustainable Use of Natural Resources to Improve Human Health and Support Economic Development). The paper is a contribution to the work of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI). The development of the village Bassian as a role model village for adoption of PAU-LCC was voluntarily supported by the Atam Pargas Social Welfare Council.


  • nitrogen
  • nitrogen use efficiency
  • Indian agricultural
  • nitrogen management
  • fertilizer


Dive into the research topics of 'Nitrogen Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural and Environmental Science in India'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this