This paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the N challenge, and to provide options for decreasing the negative impacts of excess N. The authors describe the pre-industrial, ‘natural’ N cycle, and compare it with the anthropogenically-altered cycle that exists today. The authors present the societal and environmental consequences of this massive alteration. The authors propose that to reduce the current level of anthropogenic nitrogen in the Earth System we must understand what drives the need for it. And we must look into the inefficiencies in agriculture, industry, transport and energy that produce excess reactive N. Understanding these drivers and inefficiencies will improve the prospects for living within the N planetary boundary and for reducing the negative impacts of Nr on biodiversity, ecosystems and human health.
The paper is also available in Spanish.
Erisman, J.W.; J.N. Galloway; N.B. Dice; M.A. Sutton; A. Bleeker; B. Grizzetti; A.M. Leach & W. de Vries. 2015. Nitrogen: too much of a vital resource. Science Brief. WWF Netherlands, Zeist, The Netherlands.