Nitrates and Sustainability
Nitrates are an essential nutrient for plants. For this reason, fertilizers contain sources of nitrate, as it can help boost crop yields and growth rates. However, to date there is no technology capable of monitoring nitrate levels. This leads to either over or under use of fertilizers – and neither are a good option for sustainability.
1. Under-use of fertilizers in farming
Under-use of fertilizers severely diminishes agricultural yield, which results in less food produced per square meter of land. Moreover, if farming land is not sufficiently fertilized, its exploitation can lead to crops stripping nitrogen, as well as other nutrients from the soil. This means that, year by year, the land will become less and less productive, which in turn increases the risk of food insecurity. Therefore, the under-use of fertilizers has a direct effect on world hunger.
2. Over-use of fertilizers in farming
Regular use of fertilizers replenishes and enriches soil with nitrogen sources, such as nitrates, as well as other nutrients required for the crop’s growth and health. With an abundance of nutrients, fertilized land increases the amount of food it yields. This has often led farmers, especially in regions where food used to be scarce, to fertilize generously rather than conservatively. However, over-using fertilizers comes at a big economic, environmental, and public health cost. Excess nitrates end up leaking from the farms and into water bodies. This causes the so-called eutrophication, which is the enrichment of the environment with minerals and nutrients. While this may seem like a positive outcome, it is not. Artificial eutrophication without control can lead to toxic levels of nitrates and other nutrients. As a result, over-use of fertilizers ends up damaging the environment creating dead zones, negatively affecting underwater life and coastal regions, as well as having detrimental effects for animals and humans consuming fertilizer-contaminated water.
Nitrate Soil Monitoring Techniques
Nitrate concentration may be monitored in several ways including test strips, field-testing, and lab-based testing
ZP AgTech Technology
At ZPAgTech we are aware of the potential impacts of fertilizer misuse and the lack of a suitable technology for monitoring nitrate in a timely and cost-effective manner. For this reason, we are developing our Nitrate Rod and Nitrate Module technologies.
With ZPAgTech’s products, we are paving the way to empower farmers to take control over the nutrients in their soil. We aim for a real-time data feed from the field, to the cloud and into a phone app that will provide insightful data to farmers. We expect that, with our technology, farmers will be able to:
- Improve their production yields
- Reduce fertilizer use
- AND… Save money
Thanks to our nitrate detection technology in soil, we are bringing the industry 4.0 revolution to agriculture. And thanks to this revolution we are contributing to achieving 11 of the 2030 UN’s SDGs.