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Scientists found rice attributes to improve nitrogen use efficiency

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    Science & Technology
  • Published
    23rd Jan, 2021


  • A team of scientists reported physical attributes and genes that help identify which types of rice use nitrogen efficiently.

Key-findings of the research

  • Genes associated with NUE: The scientists reported 34 genes associated with N-use-efficient (NUE) for potential crop improvement.
  • Slow germination: NUE cultivars tend to be slow in germination and flowering.
  • Lesser N input: They grow tall and deep with higher biomass and take longer duration to harvest but yield more with lesser N input.
  • Relevant to other cereals: Findings in rice will also be relevant to other cereals and possibly other crops.

Significance of the study

  • Efficient use of fertilizers: It could help farmers use nitrogenous fertilizers efficiently.
  • Economical: It will save costs of the fertilizers.
  • Climate Change: It limits nitrogen-linked pollution, which contributes to climate change.
  • More production: They grow tall and deep crop with higher biomass.
  • Reduce government expenditure: The Indian government’s subsidy on N-fertilizer (mainly urea) is over ? 50,000 crore per annum.

Usage and Environmental impacts of Nitrogen

  • Used in fertilizers: According to the Indian Nitrogen Assessment (2017), agriculture accounts for over 70% of all nitrous oxide emission in the Indian environment, out of which 77% is contributed by fertilizers, mostly urea.
  • Higher use for Cereals:Cereals account for over 69% of the total consumption of N fertilizers in India, with rice topping the list at 37%, followed by wheat (24%).
  • A potential GHG: Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas (GHG) that is 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.It has replaced methane as the second largest GHG emission from Indian agriculture over the last 15 years.

Nitrogen and its impacts

  • Nitrogen constitutes 78.1% of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is a nutrient that is essential for all kinds of lifeforms on the planet.

Excess nitrogen in the atmosphere causes:

  • Population effects: excess growth of algae (blooms)
  • Community effects: species composition shifts (dominant taxa)
  • Ecological effects: food web changes, light limitation
  • Biogeochemical effects: excess organic carbon (eutrophication); dissolved oxygen deficits (environmental hypoxia); toxin production
  • Human health effects: excess nitrate in drinking water (blue baby syndrome); disinfection by-products in drinking water
  • Biodiversity effects: excessive algae blooms (biodiversity loss)

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