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Have you ever been an atom of nitrogen?

IMG_0177_Nitrogen Sustainability Symposium 2020-1

Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service, speaks at Pivot Bio's 2020 Nitrogen Sustainability Symposium.

When David Kanter, Ph.D. and Eric Davidson, Ph.D. took the stage at the 2020 Nitrogen Sustainability Symposium (NSS), they took the conversation about nitrogen, and the ways it impacts us, to a personal level. Drs. Kanter and Davidson each took on a different form of nitrogen “personality” and described the way one form of nitrogen transforms into another, bouncing the room full of thought leaders from the perspectives of soil to air to water and back again. It was a poignant example of the multitude of ways that nitrogen impacts us, especially when it winds up in unintended places, shrinking productivity and polluting our air and water.

These are big concepts with worldwide impact, and it’s exciting to see experts in their fields sharing personal stories about how cutting edge developments improve the way we use, make, and deploy nitrogen in agriculture. Sometimes these fields were very literal - the farmers that joined us for the panel on technology adoption shared the hope they felt in discovering tools, like Pivot Bio PROVEN®, which allowed them to prioritize the health of their soil while improving the productivity of their farms. There was a palpable excitement for the prospect of a future where farmers have a better and more sustainable option for feeding their crops.

This was Pivot Bio’s second time hosting NSS, bringing together key leaders in the agricultural industry. Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS), kicked off the Symposium with a frank assessment of the intense pressures facing today’s farmers. University of Wisconsin’s Jean Michel Ane, Ph.D. highlighted the research his lab is doing to unravel the mystery of biological nitrogen fixation for cereal crops. Iowa Nutrient Research & Education Council’s (INREC) Dean Lemke and Iowa State University’s Steven Hall shared preliminary data on measuring nitrate runoff using new methodologies. Nitrogen management practices and research are important in the journey to develop a better nitrogen for farmers and the planet, and policy is the third leg of that stool. Sara Wyant, of Agri-Pulse Communications, guided a discussion on sustainability policy and practice with Rancher Farmer Fisherman author Miriam Horn, Kris Johnson of the Nature Conservancy, and Strategic Conservation Solutions’ Bruce Knight.

We were honored to serve as the convenor of a community that brings together so many talented and dedicated people seeking a turning point for nitrogen.