Pioneering Nitrogen Research and Innovations Unveiled at the Nitrogen Summer Institute

July 1, 2024
Credit: Anikka Fife, UMCES Integration and Application Network.

BALTIMORE, MD – The Nitrogen Summer Institute, hosted by the Global Nitrogen Innovation Center for Clean Energy and the Environment (NICCEE), concluded successfully on June 14, 2024, at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences’ (UMCES) Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) in Baltimore, Maryland. The three-day event brought together leading experts from academia, government agencies, industry, farming and non-profit organizations. They gathered to explore advancements and collaborative efforts for nitrogen management in agriculture, food and energy systems, with a particular focus on the opportunities and challenges presented by 'green ammonia.'

Green ammonia, produced using renewable energy, offers the potential to improve fertilizer accessibility and decarbonize marine transport. However, the adoption of green ammonia raises critical new concerns about increasing reactive nitrogen in the biosphere and exacerbating related environmental challenges. NICCEE is a global research initiative dedicated to advancing sustainable and climate-smart nitrogen management through socioeconomic and technological innovation. The Nitrogen Summer Institute was the first in-person gathering for the NICCEE global center and will be held annually going forward.

"Nitrogen is essential for life in plants, animals, and humans, yet we are facing a nitrogen paradox of 'too much, too little,' where we have too much nitrogen loaded into the environment, while leaving too little nitrogen on the plate for those people who are in need," said Xin Zhang, professor and NICCEE director based at the UMCES Appalachian Laboratory. "Both technological and socioeconomic innovations are necessary to address this paradox."

Additional Information on Keynote Addresses and Plenary Sessions

View the Nitrogen Summer Institute program here.

The conference commenced with opening remarks from Michele Masucci, Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development at the University System of Maryland, followed by a keynote address from Kevin M. Atticks, DCD, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture. Their insights set the tone for the comprehensive discussions on nitrogen innovation and green ammonia technology that followed, with Chancellor Masucci inviting collaborative innovation and Secretary Atticks welcoming science and policy that support regional agricultural sector retention and productivity alongside the thriving Chesapeake ecosystem and watershed.

Key sessions included:

  • The State of Green Ammonia Technology: Experts like Zhenhuan (Bruce) Zhao from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and David Layzell from the University of Calgary discussed the current advancements and challenges in green ammonia technology. Panelists from the US, Canada, Paraguay, Morocco, India, and the UK highlighted current and future green ammonia production efforts around the world.
  • Addressing Concerns and Advancing Green Ammonia Technology through Modeling and Data Curation: Panelists such as Beth Trask from the Environmental Defense Fund, Lorenzo Rosa from Carnegie Science and Xuejun Liu from China Agricultural University explored data and modeling needs for supporting stakeholders in green ammonia technology.
  • Opportunities and Challenges for Nitrogen Innovation: Luis Lassaletta from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Sheri Spiegal from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Jornada Experimental Range and others joined in a comprehensive discussion about nitrogen innovation beyond green ammonia. 

The Nitrogen Summer Institute featured a range of workshops and technical sessions covering vital topics, including:

  • Economic and Environmental Opportunities for Green Ammonia in On-Farm Use
  • Opportunities and Challenges for Green Ammonia in the Energy Sector and Shipping
  • Technological and Socioeconomic Innovations, Opportunities and Challenges for Nitrogen Innovation Beyond Green Ammonia 

For more information, please visit, or contact Sarah Garvey at

NICCEE is dedicated to advancing research and innovation in nitrogen management to promote sustainable agriculture, energy production and environmental conservation. Xin Zhang (professor, UMCES Appalachian Laboratory) serves as NICCEE’s director. Claudia Wagner-Riddle (professor, University of Guelph) is the lead partner from Canada, and Adie Collins (professor, Net Zero and Resilient Farming, Rothamsted Research) is the UK-lead. NICCEE is jointly funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), U.K. Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound evidence and advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.