More data needed before new fertilizer regulations are imposed

Mar 19, 2013

Scientists need more information about how farmers use nitrogen fertilizers before the state imposes new regulations, reported Tim Hearden in Capital Press. Hearden's story was based on a study published in California Agriculture journal.

Nearly 600,000 tons of nitrogen fertilizer is sold in California each year, but sales figures are not an accurate indicator of how it is used.

Imposing regulations without supporting data could fail to address the problem while damaging agriculture, said Tom Tomich, co-author of the study and director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.

"One of the other things that's unfortunate about the lack of information is it looks like California farmers have been increasing their nitrogen usage, but if we had better data, farmers would probably look pretty good," Tomich was quoted. "We have a long way to go, just like everyone on the planet. This is one of the biggest challenges facing the 21st century."

See the complete California Agriculture journal article: Nitrogen fertilizer use in California: Assessing the data, trends and a way forward.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist