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Conference Program & Abstracts

Sponsors & Organizations
Third International Conference in China

Ecological Society of America

Optimizing Nitrogen Management in Food and Energy
Production and Environmental Protection

The Second International Nitrogen Conference took place October 14-18, 2001 outside of Washington DC in Potomac, Maryland, USA. Over 400 scientists, engineers, resource managers, decision makers, and policy analysts from 30 countries attended, making the event a great success, and helping to achieve the goals set out for the Conference. These were to:

  • Increase scientific knowledge about nitrogen sources and effects
  • Stimulate communication among leaders in nitrogen production and consumption

  • Explore balanced policy strategies by which to increase food and energy production while decreasing environmental impacts

Conference products include a 17 page Conference Summary Statement (pdf), a 70 page Conference Report (pdf), a pier reviewed collection of Contributed Papers published by A.S. Balkema & TheScientificWorld, and publication of plenary papers in a Special Issue of the journal Ambio (March 2001, in English & Chinese). NitroGenius, a nitrogen decision support interactive computer simulation game. The findings of the Conference are being disseminated through Post Conference Activities that include distribution of the products and a series of targeted briefings for decision makers.


The First International Nitrogen Conference was held in the Netherlands in 1998. Its primary focus was on the effects of increased cycling of nitrogen on regional, continental and global scales. The main contributions were from European scientists.

Three significant messages emerged from the First Conference: 1) increased circulation of nitrogen in the atmosphere and biosphere is occurring in all parts of the globe; 2) nitrogen has a range of well understood beneficial and detrimental consequences for people and the environment; and 3) scientists and decision makers need to work together to develop integrated approaches to solve nitrogen-related problems.

These insights led to the recommendation that a Second International Nitrogen Conference be held in the United States during the autumn of 2001. The Second Conference concentrated primarily on North America and Europe with a secondary focus on Asia - the most rapidly developing part of the world.

More than 400 scientists, engineers, resource managers, decision makers, and policy analysts attended the Conference. The participants came from 30 nations and six continents of the world. The disciplines represented included agronomy, animal nutrition, aquatic ecology, atmospheric chemistry and physics, atmospheric modeling and meteorology, biochemistry, biogeochemistry, crop science, environmental science, forestry, geography, geology, horticultural science, human nutrition, journalism, law, limnology, medical and environmental health sciences, oceanography, plant ecology, plant pathology, plant physiology, political science, poultry science, and soil science.

The participants represented many stakeholder groups concerned with reactive nitrogen production, uses, and consequences once it begins to cycle in the environment. They included leaders in international, federal, state, and provincial government agencies; environmental and public interest groups; business leaders in crop and animal agriculture, energy production, transportation, and communications; and professional societies and trade associations.

Cutting-edge nitrogen science and policy issues were explored through several approaches before, during, and after the Conference:

  • A 2.5-day Workshop among authors of plenary papers four months before the Conference;
  • Seventeen plenary paper presentations during the Conference;
  • Nineteen oral and poster sessions featuring 285 presentations;
  • Three lively and well-attended Roundtable Discussions
  • 50 sessions of NitroGenius played during the Conference - an interactive computer simulation game in which participants assume the roles of different stakeholders in making decisions to optimize nitrogen management;
  • More than 500 answers from conference participants to a series of nitrogen science and policy questions;
  • Statements developed by groups of conference participants to identify "common ground" on issues that stimulated debate during the Conference;
  • Suggestions by individual conference participants that will contribute to the ability of their home country, institution, or agency to optimize nitrogen management in their society;
  • Publication of peer-reviewed contributed papers in TheScientificWorld and preparation of plenary papers for a forthcoming issue of Ambio.
The scientific findings and recommendations from the Conference can be found in the Conference Summary Statement (pdf) and the Conference Report (pdf).

The Third International Nitrogen Conference will be held in Nanjing, People Republic of China, in October 2004 under the sponsorship of the Chines Academy of Sciences and the Soil Science Society of China.

American Society of Agronomy
USDA Agriculture
Environmental Protection Agency
Crop Science Society of America
Dutch Ministry of Housing..
The Fertilizer Institute
Soil Science Society of America

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration