By Pamela Matson, Walter Falcon (auth.), Pamela A. Matson (eds.)

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6 kg N/ ha in the 1994–95 and 1995–96 wheat cycles, respectively, representing over 40 percent of total trace gas losses through the crop cycle. Measured gas emissions were among the highest ever reported. Measured leaching losses were likewise high. Our analyses suggest that the typical farmer practice leads to a loss of 14 to 26 percent of the applied fertilizer from the top meter of soil in the month prior to planting (Riley et al. 2001); some of that nitrogen was likely stored in deep soils, and some was lost from deep soils to the groundwater and surface water systems.

This suggests larger farms were capable of transitioning more quickly into commercialized agriculture while smaller farmers and ejidos were mainly producing for subsistence (Hicks 1967). Additionally, private farmers, and to some extent collective ejidos, more intensively utilized their land, generally had access to more resources, and were thus able to venture into more diversified crops. Individual ejidos, on the other hand, tended to plant only one crop in a given area over the year—either wheat or cotton (Freebarin 1963).

Our surveys in 1994–95 and 1995–96 Looking for Win-Wins in Intensive Agriculture 35 indicated that the typical fertilizer practice applied on average 250 kg/ha per six-month wheat crop, with around 180 kg/ha of the N applied approximately a month before planting as urea, and the rest typically applied as anhydrous ammonia in flood irrigation water later in the growing cycle. Application rates had been steadily increasing since the 1950s; while wheat yields had increased only marginally between 1980 and 2000, average fertilizer rates increased by over a third (fig.

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