UK to Support Nitrogen Research in India
- 25 Jan 2019
- 4 min read
The United Kingdom will fund the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH), a group of 50 institutions to assess and study the quantum and impact of “nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.
- Eighteen research institutions in India are the part of SANH which will study the impacts of the different forms of pollution to form a “coherent picture” of the nitrogen cycle.
- In particular, it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.
- This is a five-year programme established with funds from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).
Global Challenges Research Fund
- The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.
- GCRF forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
- Nitrogen constitutes 78% of Earth's air. In the form of gas it is colourless, odourless and generally considered as inert gas. In aqueous form also it is colourless and odourless.
- Nitrogen makes plants grow and is an essential component for life.
- Nitrogen is potent greenhouse gas. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent green house gas than carbon dioxide.
- Nitrogen pollution is caused by emission of excess of Nitrogen from the use of chemical fertilisers, livestock manure and burning fossil fuels.
- Gases such as ammonia (NH3) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) contribute to poor air quality and can aggravate respiratory and heart conditions, leading to millions of premature deaths across the world.
- Nitrate from chemical fertilisers, manure and industry pollutes the rivers and seas, posing a health risk for humans, fish, coral and plant life.
- Other than air pollution, nitrogen is also linked to the loss of biodiversity, the pollution of rivers and seas, ozone depletion, health, economy, and livelihoods.
Need of the Study
According to a study, nitrogen emissions in India grew at 52% from 1991 to 2001 and 69% from 2001 to 2011.
- The planetary boundary of N (nitrogen) is set at 44 Tg (Tera-grams) per year globally and current application of N, primarily through fertiliser usage, is about 150 Tg N per year.
- Planetary boundary is the limits of the earth within which humans can thrive.
- Specially in case of South Asia, high doses of fertiliser input of nitrogen to agriculture combined with low nitrogen-use efficiency means that research on nitrogen pollution must be a priority. This is emphasised by the scale of nitrogen subsidies across South Asia at around $10 billion per year.