Primary Investigator: Timothy Griffis
Co-Investigators: Alexander Frie, Rodney Venterea
Industry Partners: Minnesota Farm Winery Association
Award Type: Seed Grant – Postdoctoral Research Scholar
Problem: Since the industrial revolution, the use of synthetic nitrogen (N) as fertilizer has driven increased agricultural yields. To meet growing demand, the use of N fertilizer has grown 40-times as large since 1940. Increased usage has led to a steep increase in emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas roughly 300 times more potent than CO2. N2O has been labeled as the most important anthropogenic oxygen depleting substance. Minnesota’s 72 agricultural counties need new treatment methods to continue a sustainable approach to fertilizer use.
Solution: The majority of agriculturally-based N2O emissions come from denitrification, a biological process through which nitrate is converted to ozone-depleting nitrogenous gases. MnDRIVE Researchers have identified procyanidins, a compound produced by grapes and berries, as an inhibitor of denitrification. This project will use procyanidins from multiple sources and measure their ability to reduce N2O emissions. Researchers will also identify optimal levels of procyanidins to apply for the desired decrease in denitrification.
Impact: Climate change and O-Zone depletion are two pressing issues defining environmental protection in the 21st century. The potential of procyanidins to decrease nitrous oxide emissions is yet to be fully released, but their utilization could be key in mitigating climate change and stratospheric O-zone depletion. Procyanidin is produced by grapes and could increase the demand for juice and wine production, providing economic stimulation for Minnesota industries.