Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

What You Eat Determines Your ‘Nitrogen Footprint’

Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Researchers have calculated that beef generates about twice as much nitrogen as pork, and almost three times as much as chicken or fish.

Scientists at Oxford, Lancaster, and Virginia universities have produced a web-based tool that allows anyone living in the UK to see their own ‘nitrogen footprint’.

It asks users to put in information so the tool can calculate the likely effect that the food that they eat or the transport they take has on the environment in terms of nitrogen pollution.

Scientists have warned that reactive nitrogen pollution is already a major environmental problem that is causing significant damage to air and water quality across the UK. Nitrogen runoff from farms and man-made effluents are largely responsible for algal blooms that affect river systems, whilst atmospheric nitrogen pollution is leading to significant losses of biodiversity. Most of the nitrogen pollution arises out of agricultural processes used in the growing of crops or grazing of animals, and a significant proportion of the average UK nitrogen footprint comes from vehicle emissions, they warn.

‘Nitrogen is essential for growing crops for food or high quality grass for cattle, as any farmer knows,’ said Paul Whitehead, Director of the Natural Environment Research Council’s Macronutrient Cycles programme at the University of Oxford. ‘However, the widespread use of nitrogen fertilizer to boost crop production has resulted in a runoff of excess nitrogen from farms into our rivers, lakes and groundwaters.’

The researchers used publicly available data such as national atmospheric data, national land use and farm statistics to make the calculations. The N-Calculator website also makes recommendations for how to lessen your ‘nitrogen footprint’, such as cutting back on road and air travel, choosing renewable energy and, most importantly, altering the balance of the foods contained in your diet.

‘Unlike your carbon footprint, what you eat is the most important factor determining your nitrogen footprint,’ said Dr Carly Stevens of Lancaster University. ‘By altering the amount and type of food that you eat, you can make a big difference to your impact on the environment. The difference in nitrogen levels occurs because of the amount of nitrogen that is lost during the food processing cycles. Simply stated,  the larger the animal, the larger its nitrogen footprint because it takes longer to get to market weight.'

The amount of nitrogen pollution from crop production varies with the amount of fertilizer applied and the efficiency of the crop. Nitrogen losses can also occur during food processing and even through household-level food waste.

Universities are starting to use the tool to show students how one individual can alter and help restore a natural cycle like nitrogen. The researchers suggest that the tool could be used by the wider community, particularly schoolchildren, to explore more sustainable ways of living.

The tool, first developed in the US, has been updated and adapted for UK users by researchers from Lancaster University under a project funded by the NERC Macronutrient Cycles programme at Oxford. The device was originally created by award-winning scientist James N Galloway and his research colleagues, Allison Leach, at the University of Virginia, Albert Bleeker of ECN and Jan Willem Erisman of the Louis Bolk Institute, both of The Netherlands.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Funding Boost for Diabetes Research
Programme of research could be a game-changer for people with Type 1 diabetes and insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Ebola Vaccine Trial Begins in Senegal
A clinical trial to evaluate an Ebola vaccine has begun in Dakar, Senegal, after initial research started at the Jenner Institute, Oxford University.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
New Insight into Recombination and Sex Chromosomes
Not only does the platypus have some odd physical features, an updated version of its genome has also underscored the unusual genetic characteristics that it harbors.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Protein Clue To Sudden Cardiac Death
A protein has been shown to have a surprising role in regulating the 'glue' that holds heart cells together, a finding that may explain how a gene defect could cause sudden cardiac death.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Oxford Vaccine Group Begins First Trial of New Ebola Vaccine
Oxford University doctors and scientists are starting the first safety trial of an experimental preventative Ebola vaccine regimen being developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Janssen).
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
New Vaccine Generates Strong Immune Response Against Hepatitis C
A new hepatitis C vaccine has shown promising results in an early clinical trial at Oxford University, generating strong and broad immune responses against the virus causing the disease.
Friday, November 07, 2014
Investment In Cancer Research At Oxford University
Centre for Molecular Medicine to focus on cancer genomics and molecular diagnostics, through a partnership with the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute.
Friday, October 24, 2014
A-maize-ing Double Life of a Genome
Study findings could help current efforts to improve existing crop varieties.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Genetic Tracking Identifies Cancer Stem Cells in Patients
The gene mutations driving cancer have been tracked for the first time in patients back to a distinct set of cells at the root of cancer – cancer stem cells.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Eating Organic Food Doesn't Lower Overall Cancer Risk
Women who always or mostly eat organic foods have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
New Trial of Personalized Cancer Treatment Begins in Oxford
Phase I trial in Oxford will investigate a new drug, called CXD101.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Interactive Map of Human Genetic History Revealed
Study identifies, dates and characterizes genetic mixing between populations.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
UK Scientists to Begin Trial of Potential HIV Cure
Scientists and clinicians from five leading UK universities will begin a groundbreaking clinical trial next year to test a possible cure for HIV infection.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Nanoparticles to Probe Mystery Sperm Defects Behind Infertility
A way of using nanoparticles to investigate the mechanisms underlying 'mystery' cases of infertility has been developed.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Scientists Break Blood-Brain Barrier to Allow Cancer Drugs In
Oxford University scientists have found a way of delivering drugs more effectively to treat life-threatening cancers that have spread to the brain.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Scientific News
The Changing Tides of the In Vitro Diagnostics Market
With the increasing focus in personalized medicine, diagnostics plays a crucial role in patient monitoring.
LaVision BioTec Reports on the Neuro Research on the Human Brain After Trauma
Company reports on the work of Dr Ali Ertürk from the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research at LMU Munich.
NIH Study Shows No Benefit of Omega-3 Supplements for Cognitive Decline
Research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Less May Be More in Slowing Cholera Epidemics
Mathematical model shows more cases may be prevented and more lives saved when using one dose of cholera vaccine instead of recommended two doses.
Investigating the Vape
Expert independent review concludes that e-cigarettes have potential to help smokers quit.
NIH Launches Human RSV Study
Study aims to understand infection in healthy adults to aid development of RSV medicines, vaccines.
Researchers Discover Synthesis of a New Nanomaterial
Interdisciplinary team creates biocomposite for first time using physiological conditions.
Poor Survival Rates in Leukemia Linked to Persistent Genetic Mutations
For patients with an often-deadly form of leukemia, new research suggests that lingering cancer-related mutations – detected after initial treatment with chemotherapy – are associated with an increased risk of relapse and poor survival.
Flu Remedies Help Combat E. coli Bacteria
Physiologists from the University of Zurich have now discovered why the intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) multiplies heavily and has an inflammatory effect.
Marijuana Genome Unraveled
A study by Canadian researchers is providing a clearer picture of the evolutionary history and genetic organization of cannabis, a step that could have agricultural, medical and legal implications for this valuable crop.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!