Researchers from EDF, University of Nebraska and Cornell University tested the relationship between nitrogen (N) balance and nitrogen losses and found that N balance is an effective proxy measure of nitrogen losses to the environment. Improving N balance--through practices such as cover crops and crop rotation--reduces water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, while using fertilizer more efficiently for crop yield. EDF notes that although N balance has been used in Europe and with livestock agriculture, it has yet to be widely applied to U.S. commodity-scale row-crop production. In 2018, EDF will collaborate with farmer, food industry, and research partners to conduct pilot projects to test the value of N balance for benchmarking improvements in nutrient runoff and greenhouse gas emissions--from the individual farm level to an entire supply-chain sourcing region.
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