Precision nitrogen application – potential to lower the climate impact of crop production

Mistra Food Futures report #9 “Precision nitrogen application – potential to lower the climate impact of crop production” estimated the impact of two different measures for more accurate nitrogen fertilisation compared with a uniform fertilisation application. Effects on nitrogen leaching, N2O emissions, grain yield and nitrogen balance were also analysed.

 – According to the results, the climate impact was reduced by around 5% when using field-specific nitrogen fertilisation, says Per-Anders Hansson, researcher at Mistra Food Futures.

The agriculture sector is a significant contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, especially methane (CH4) and nitrous oxides (N2O). Nitrous oxide emissions originate primarily from nitrogen fertiliser production and use. A nitrogen fertilisation rate close to crop demand is desirable for several reasons, e.g. it limits fertiliser use per unit of crop produced and reduces the risk of N2O emissions and nitrogen leaching.

Precision agriculture (PA) aims at optimising agricultural measures with respect to temporal and spatial variability. Precision agriculture is defined as a management strategy that gathers, processes and analyses temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to estimated variability, for improved resource use efficiency, productivity, quality, profitability and sustainability of agricultural production (ISPA, 2022).

This report is a part of Mistra Food Future’s work to identify agricultural systems with potential to make agriculture net-zero, one of the central issues within Mistra Food Futures.


Hanna Karlsson Potter, Sofia Delin, Lena Engström, Bo Stenberg, Per-Anders Hansson.

Download the report

Mistra Food Futures Report #9. Precision nitrogen application – potential to lower the climate impact of crop production.

About Mistra Food Futures

The overarching vision of the programme Mistra Food Futures is to create a science-based platform to enable transformation of the Swedish food system into one that is sustainable (in all three dimensions: environmental, economic, and social), resilient and delivers healthy diets. By taking a holistic perspective and addressing issues related to agriculture and food production, as well as processing, consumption and retail, Mistra Food Futures aims to play a key role in initiating an evidence-based sustainability (including environmental, economic, and social dimensions) and resilience transformation of the Swedish food system.