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Environment: Using bacteria to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from farmland |

Research press release


nature

May 30, 2024

Regarding nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from farmland, one study suggests that emissions can be reduced by using fertilizers with increased concentrations of N2O-consuming bacteria.naturePublished in


The use of nitrogen in agriculture, especially in the form of synthetic fertilizers, is critical to crop production, but excessive use of these synthetic fertilizers can lead to increased emissions of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas. Bacteria that use nitrous oxide to breathe have the ability to reduce the amount of nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere. However, no practical method has yet been found to retain these bacteria in agricultural fields and improve their activity.


Now, Lars Bakken and his colleagues have developed a method using Cloacibacterium species CB-01, a strain of bacteria that respires N2O. Bakken et al. cultured high concentrations of CB-01 in a mixture of organic waste (fermentation residue) resulting from biogas production. CB-01 was chosen because it has two qualities: rapid growth in mixtures and survival in soil. Next, we fertilized three fields with a mixture containing CB-01 and a mixture after heat sterilization CB-01, and compared the two to measure the effect of CB-01 on nitrous oxide emissions.


Application of the mixture containing CB-01 resulted in an initial near-zero peak of enrichment-induced nitrous oxide emissions, followed by a sustained strong effect over the remainder of the study (100 days). The abundance of CB-01 decreased slightly but remained at a relatively high level, indicating that this method could prevent NO emissions during the growth stage of CB-01. When tested on four different soil types, the mixture enriched with CB-01 reduced nitrous oxide emissions by 50 to 95 percent, depending on the soil type. Next, for the broader impact, we used modeling to forecast the impact on N2O emissions across Europe in 2030, comparing the use case of Bakken et al.'s method and the use case of existing N2O removal technology. As a result, the method followed by Bakken and others could reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from agricultural lands in European countries by 2.7%, and if the technology could be expanded to include all types of mineral and natural fertilizers, reductions could reach 24%. He expects that there will be .
This can be a cost-effective and effective method to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from farmland. Bakken et al conclude that improving the strain used may increase its effectiveness and ability to withstand environmental stresses.

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doi:10.1038/s41586-024-07299-y

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