Connect with:
Saturday / July 20. 2024
HomeAgroPolicyAgro UniversitiesCIMMYT receives USD 21.1 Mn grant from Novo Nordisk Foundation for sustainable agriculture

CIMMYT receives USD 21.1 Mn grant from Novo Nordisk Foundation for sustainable agriculture

Grant will be used to lead an innovation research initiative called CropSustaiN that is designed to reduce the nitrogen footprint of wheat cultivation.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of up to USD 21.1 million to CIMMYT for a groundbreaking initiative to mitigate the environmental impact of agriculture, by developing new wheat varieties that are capable of reducing agriculture’s nitrogen footprint. The CropSustaiN initiative could have sweeping implications for global food security and environmental sustainability.

As the global population approaches the 10 billion mark, the reliance on fertilisers to boost agricultural production has become an essential, yet environmentally challenging, practice. A Century-long dependence on these additives has allowed food production to keep pace with the growth in human population. However, the use of fertilisers across various farming systems is now causing severe ecological stress. The leaching of nitrogen into natural ecosystems, coupled with the release of greenhouse gases, is pushing the Earth’s environmental limits to a critical threshold.

To address this, an ambitious new research initiative aims to shrink the nitrogen footprint of agriculture by developing a breakthrough technology based on nature’s own solutions: a natural process called biological nitrification inhibition (BNI). The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded CIMMYT a grant of up to USD 21.1 million to lead an innovation research initiative called CropSustaiN that is designed to reduce the nitrogen footprint of wheat cultivation.

“Success in this initiative could lead to a major shift in agricultural practices globally, benefiting both the planet and farmers’ livelihoods. In addition to using less fertiliser, cost for the farmer will be minimal because all the components are already in the seed. This initiative could, potentially, be extended from wheat cultivation to include other staple crops like maize and rice,” says Claus Felby, Senior Vice President, Biotech, Novo Nordisk Foundation.

“BNI could be a part of how we revolutionise nitrogen management in agriculture. It represents a genetic mitigation strategy that not only complement existing methods but also has the potential to decrease the need for synthetic fertilisers substantially. The mitigation potential of better nitrogen fertiliser management could be as impactful for the Global South as the Green Revolution,” explains Bram Govaerts, Director General, CIMMYT.

Revolutionary mitigation approach

Rooted in a seed-based genetic strategy, BNI leverages a plant’s innate ability to suppress soil nitrification through the release of natural compounds. This approach potentially promises to curb the use and leaching of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers—a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution—without compromising wheat yield or soil vitality. The BNI-method contrasts with synthetic nitrification inhibitors and could offer a more scalable and cost-effective solution, potentially reducing nitrogen fertiliser usage by 20%, depending on regional farming conditions.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has already laid the groundwork for CropSustaiN by funding related BNI research at CIMMYT, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Aarhus University, the University of Aberdeen, and the University of Copenhagen -thus fostering an ecosystem for research innovation.

No comments

leave a comment