The Scientific World Journal

The Scientific World Journal / 2001 / Article
Special Issue

Optimizing Nitrogen Management in Food and Energy Production and Environmental Protection: 2nd International Nitrogen Conference 2001

View this Special Issue

Research Article | Open Access

Volume 1 |Article ID 615751 | 7 pages |

Nitrogen Exchanges: Testing the Hypothesis of a Country without Agricultural Production

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski


Today, finding data on agricultural nitrogen balances is quite easy. Calculations of such balances are carried out by most of the European countries as an indicator of environmental pollution attributable to the agricultural sector. In France, average values of agricultural nitrogen balances show an excess of 1.5 to 2 million tons of nitrogen. This excess is enormous. What would the balance of a country be if agricultural activity were stopped? In the following article, a country (France is used as an example) without agriculture is studied in order to assess its nitrogen balance. Using a previously published model describing nitrogen input and output of a given country, nitrogen flows are identified. Inputs include deposition, fixation, and products not intended for agricultural use. Outputs are reduced to zero if agriculture disappears (in France, agriculture is the only sector exporting products containing nitrogen). All flows are calculated considering the hypothesis of disappearance of agriculture. Nitrogen requirements to feed people and pets in France are estimated based on medical and veterinary data (recommended daily amounts for proteins and/or usual average consumption). Indeed, most of the food that nourishes the French population is produced nationally. If agriculture stops, it will be necessary to import food from foreign countries. Results show an unexpectedly high excess (for a country without agriculture having a structure similar to France: number of human beings and pets) of 1.5 million tons of nitrogen. An attempt to calculate an agricultural balance with the same data gives a result close to 3 million tons. Differences in French agricultural balances found in the literature can mainly be explained by values taken into account for deposition and fixation (values used here are at least 300,000 tons higher than values used by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). In conclusion, nitrogen excess in agriculture is partly due to social demand; agriculture does not only produce food but also includes many other functions (landscape management, employment, and preservation of culture, for example). As a consequence, efforts that do not involve suppressing agriculture should be made to figure out alternative ways of production.

More related articles

47 Views | 190 Downloads | 0 Citations
 PDF  Download Citation  Citation
 Order printed copiesOrder

Related articles

We are committed to sharing findings related to COVID-19 as quickly and safely as possible. Any author submitting a COVID-19 paper should notify us at to ensure their research is fast-tracked and made available on a preprint server as soon as possible. We will be providing unlimited waivers of publication charges for accepted articles related to COVID-19. Sign up here as a reviewer to help fast-track new submissions.