CSAT 2023

Q. A global analysis of nitrogen use efficiency a measure of the amount of nitrogen a plant takes in to grow versus what is left behind as pollution says that using too much fertilizers will lead to increased pollution of waterways and the air.

Currently, the global average for nitrogen use efficiency is approximately 0.4, meaning 40 per cent of the total nitrogen added to cropland goes into the harvested crop while 60 per cent is lost to the environment, says a study. More than half of the world’s population is nourished by food grown with fertilizers containing synthetic nitrogen, which is needed to produce high crop yields. Plants take the nitrogen they need to grow, and the excess is left in the ground, water and air. This results in significant emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse and ozone depleting gas, and other forms of nitrogen pollution, including eutrophication of lakes and rivers and contamination of river water.

Q. Which one of the following statements best reflects the most logical, rational and crucial message implied by the passage? 
(a) An enhanced efficiency of use of nitrogen is imperative for both food production and environment.
(b) Production of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers cannot be stopped as it will adversely affect global food security.
(c) Alternatives to crops that require excess of nitrogen should be identified and cultivated.
(d) Conventional agriculture using synthetic fertilizers should be replaced with agroforestry, agroecosystems and organic farming.

Question from UPSC Prelims 2023 CSAT

Model Answer:

Q1: Correct Answer – (a) An enhanced efficiency of use of nitrogen is imperative for both food production and environment.

Explanation – 
The passage discusses the issue of nitrogen use efficiency in agriculture, highlighting the fact that a significant portion of nitrogen added to cropland is lost to the environment, leading to pollution. It also mentions that synthetic nitrogen is crucial for high crop yields. Therefore, the statement that best reflects the passage’s implied message is that an enhanced efficiency of use of nitrogen is crucial for both food production and the environment. This would allow for the necessary crop yields while minimizing environmental harm. The other options, while potentially valid points, are not directly implied by the passage.

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