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Fertilized soil in the Central Valley produces 40% of CA’s nitrogen oxides emissions

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January 31, 2018 UCDavis read full ScienceDaily article here

A previously unrecognized source of nitrogen oxide is contributing up to about 40 percent of the NOx emissions in California, according to a new study. The study traces the emissions to fertilized soils in the Central Valley region….

…Fossil fuels have long been recognized as a major contributor to NOx pollution. Technologies like the catalytic converter have helped greatly reduce NOx emitted from vehicles in urban areas. But some of the state’s worst air quality problems are now in rural areas, particularly the Central Valley region, which is home to some of the poorest communities in California.

The Central Valley is also one of the world’s most highly productive agricultural areas. Roughly half of the fruits and nuts produced in the United States are grown there. This includes nearly all the nation’s almonds, walnuts, raisins, avocados, and tomatoes….

….“Only about half of the nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops are used by the plant. But slow-release fertilizers that deliver nutrients in a way that more closely mimics nature have been shown to greatly improve nitrogen use efficiency of crops, reducing emissions of nitrogen in the environment. Healthy soils programs that restore carbon in the soil can also help fight climate change and are likely to increase nutrient retention and cycling to crops….

….The state also began a program this year in which growers work in coalitions to gather information on efficient uses of nitrogen so they can evaluate how and where the state needs to manage nitrogen in agricultural areas. This work aims to reduce nitrate in the groundwater but it may have a double benefit in reducing NOx emissions.”…

Maya Almaraz, Edith Bai, Chao Wang, Justin Trousdell, Stephen Conley, Ian Faloona, Benjamin Z. Houlton. Agriculture is a major source of NO x pollution in California. Science Advances, 2018; 4 (1): eaao3477 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao3477

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