Bioactive carbon improves nitrogen fertiliser efficiency and ecological sustainability
Agriculture’s most pressing challenge is raising global food production while minimising environmental degradation. Nutrient deficiencies, principally nitrogen (N), limit production requiring future increases in fertiliser use and risk to proximal non-agricultural ecosystems. We investigated combining humate with urea, globally the most widely used N-suppling fertiliser, in a four-year field study. Humate increased pasture yield by 9.8% more than urea and significantly altered soil microbial diversity and function. Humate increased N retention suggesting microbial sequestration may lower N leaching and volatilisation losses. Humic microbial bio-stimulation could feasibly increase fertiliser efficiency and development of ecologically sustainable agriculture.