From: University of Toronto via ScienceDaily
Published July 29, 2016 03:31 PM

Rice crops that can save farmers money and cut pollution

A new U of T Scarborough study has identified "superstar" varieties of rice that can reduce fertilizer loss and cut down on environmental pollution in the process.

The study, authored by U of T Scarborough Professor Herbert Kronzucker in collaboration with a team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, looked at 19 varieties of rice to see which ones were more efficient at using nitrogen.

"We have this bucolic idea of agriculture -- animals grazing or vast fields of majestic crops -- but the global reality is it's one of the biggest drivers of environmental pollution and climate change," says Kronzucker.

Nitrogen, when applied as fertilizer, is taken up inefficiently by most crops. In tropical rice fields, as much as 50 to 70 per cent can be lost. The problem is that nitrogen negatively impacts water quality by contaminating nearby watersheds or leaching into ground water. It's also a significant source of gases such as ammonia and nitrogen oxide, which are not only harmful to aquatic life but also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

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