UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub
Researchers from Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences will be members of the UKRI GCRF’s new ‘South Asian Nitrogen Hub’. This ambitious new Hub brings together partners from the UK and South Asia; together 32 leading research organisations. The Hub seeks to improve nitrogen management in agriculture, saving money on fertilizers and making better use of manure, urine and natural nitrogen fixation processes.
Humans have super-charged the flows of nitrogen on our planet, leading to huge benefits for food production and serious threats to the environment. There are few places on Earth more affected than South Asia, with levels of nitrogen pollution rapidly increasing. Inefficient nitrogen use leads to emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas ‘nitrous oxide’, with nitrogen losses from agriculture and from fossil fuel combustion also causing air and water pollution. Through its myriad forms and uses nitrogen creates a tangled web of interlinked problems and solutions.
Nitrogen pollution damages human health, threatens biodiversity of forests and rivers, and leads to coastal and marine pollution that exacerbates the effects of climate change. The Hub will highlight options for more profitable and cleaner farming for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives. India alone spends around £6 billion per year subsidising fertilizer supply. The hub will also consider how nitrogen pollution could be turned back to fertilizer, for example by capturing nitrogen oxide gas from factories and converting it into nitrate.
Professor Dave Reay, School of GeoSciences said:
“This hub is a game-changer in addressing the global nitrogen challenge. It super-charges an already thriving network of leading researchers and practitioners in the UK and across South Asia, giving us the opportunity to deliver sustainable solutions and to build lasting capacity at scale. The success of our hub proposal is testament to the wealth of relevant expertise in all three Colleges here at Edinburgh, and to our wonderful external colleagues across Scotland, England, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Nepal, and the Maldives.”
The School has been successful in securing three UK GCRF Awards. The School will lead on the GCRF Multi-Hazard Urban Disaster Risk Transitions Hub; and will work in collaboration with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology to create a GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub; and with the University of Strathclyde to create a GCRF One Oceans Hub.
The hubs are funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) – which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations sustainable development goals.