Project: GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub
Timescale: 2019-2024
Funder: UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund
Principal investigator: Prof Mark Sutton

The challenge

Humans have massively altered flows of nitrogen on our planet, leading to both benefits for food production and multiple threats to the environment. There are few places on Earth more affected than South Asia, with levels of nitrogen pollution rapidly increasing. The result is a web of interlinked problems, as nitrogen losses from agriculture and from fossil fuel combustion cause air and water pollution. This damages human health, threatens biodiversity of forests and rivers, and leads to coastal and marine pollution that exacerbates the effects of climate change, such as by predisposing reefs to coral bleaching. 

Project overview

A major research hub established under the UK Global Challenge Research Fund: The GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub is a partnership that brings together 32 leading research organisations with project engagement partners from the UK and South Asia. All eight countries of the South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme (SACEP) are included. The hub includes research on how to improve nitrogen management in agriculture, saving money on fertilizers and making better use of manure, urine and natural nitrogen fixation processes. It highlights options for more profitable and cleaner farming for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives. At the same time, the hub considers how nitrogen pollution could be turned back to fertilizer, for example by capturing nitrogen oxide gas from factories and converting it into nitrate.

UKCEH people

Principal investigator