Scientists from India and the United Kingdom came together to improve food production and optimize use of nitrogen in agriculture. At the recently concluded review meeting of four Virtual Joint Centers (VJCs), scientists and researchers deliberated on the long-term support needed for targeting complex traits such as Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE).
ICRISAT is leading one of the VJCs CINTRIN (Cambridge India Network for Translational Research in Nitrogen). The long look and review meeting of all the four VJCs was organized by the team led by Dr Rajeev Gupta, the Principal Investigator of CINTRIN at ICRISAT on 30-31 August. The meeting assumes significance in light of concerns around indiscriminate usage of nitrogen in agriculture that could potentially have a negative impact on the environment as well as on the livelihood of smallholder farmers.
The participants discussed success stories of low-cost solutions, such as that of the Leaf Colour Chart for judicious N use, which resulted in a significant savings of urea in a village adopted by CINTRIN in Punjab. Various ongoing and new areas of nitrogen research were discussed in details as part of ‘long look’ discussions.
The four VJCs working together on this project targeting biological nitrogen use (CINTRIN and INEW: Indo-UK Centre for the Improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat), nitrogen fixation (IUNFC: India-UK Nitrogen Fixation Centre) and agronomic nitrogen use (NEWS: Newton-Bhabha Virtual Centre on Nitrogen Efficiency of Whole-cropping Systems for improved performance and resilience in agriculture) were initiated in 2016.
The review meeting was attended by over 50 scientists representing universities of Cambridge, Rothamsted, Aberdeen and Edinburgh, Indian State Agricultural Universities, NARS, and ICAR institutes. The funding agencies – the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India and the UK Research and Innovation, UK – were satisfied with the progress made so far and promised to look into ways to support the initiative in the long term, so as to have a sustained impact on food and environment security.