Nitrogen Use Efficient Crops

Nitrogen fertilizers enable farmers to achieve the high yields that drive modern agriculture. The use of nitrogen fertilizer will continue to increase substantially as global population and food requirements grow. International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) forecasts suggest that under current conditions nitrogen fertilizer applications will total nearly 100 million tons per year by 2010-11.

While fertilizers are effective in driving crop yield improvements, they also frequently have a negative impact on the environment. Since most plants are able to utilize less than one-half of the nitrogen fertilizer applied by growers, much of the remaining nitrogen fertilizer leaches into the air, soil and water and pollutes lakes, rivers, aquifers and oceans.

A significant portion of the unabsorbed nitrogen fertilizer volatizes in the form of N2O. In fact, agriculture is the second largest industrial contributor to global greenhouse gases (GHGs) -- ahead of the transportation sector and behind only electrical and heat generation. It is estimated that nitrogen fertilizer accounts for one-third of the GHGs produced by agriculture (Stern Review 2006).

One of the most visible examples of the harmful environmental effects of nitrogen fertilizers is the creation of "dead zones" in the world's oceans. Dead zones result from the death and decomposition of massive algae blooms that are fed by excessive nutrient runoff. When algae populations get too large, they die and their natural decomposition depletes the water of oxygen. This creates a condition called "hypoxia" and results in suffocation and death of fish species.

A 2004 United Nations Environment Programme report identified dead zones as one of the most significant global environmental threats facing the world. According to the report there are more than 146 dead zones around the world that range in size from between one square kilometer to more than 70,000 square kilometers.

Our Solution

Arcadia's Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) technology produces plants with yields that are equivalent to conventional varieties but which require significantly less nitrogen fertilizer because they use it more efficiently. This technology has the potential to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizer that is lost by farmers every year due to leaching into the air, soil and waterways.

In addition to environmental pressures, nitrogen costs can represent a significant portion of a farmer's input costs and can significantly impact farmer profitability. Arcadia believes that growers will have a powerful incentive to use its NUE technology because it makes economic sense for them to do so. In effect, NUE technology will help growers protect the environment while helping them run a more profitable business.

Arcadia has successfully transformed canola, Arabidopsis (model crop), tobacco (model crop) and rice with the NUE technology. In addition, our NUE technology has demonstrated significant yield improvements over the control variety using much less nitrogen fertilizer in field trials in five growing seasons.

Improving Rice Productivity in Nitrogen-Deficient and Saline Environments of Sub-Saharan Africa

These proceedings summarize the tripartite consultative meeting of The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Africa Rice Center (WARDA) and Arcadia Biosciences Inc, held at the WARDA headquarters in Cotonou, Benin. The partners jointly committed themselves to this initiative for adding value to rice productivity in Africa by undertaking to work towards improving rice varieties with traits for nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and salinity tolerance (ST).

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