As an undergraduate-level Chemistry teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching about fertilizers, types of fertilizers, the assessment of different types of fertilizers, the possible effect of fertilizer use on the environment due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and best practices to mitigate these effects.

The teaching tools in this lesson plan help students to understand the significance of GHG emissions from fertilizer use. Further, the lesson plan triggers a discussion on practices to mitigate such emissions because GHGs are possible contributors to climate change. Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Chemistry.



Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:

  1. Why are fertilizers important for agriculture globally?
  2. What is the potential impact of fertilizer use on climate?
  3. How does nitrogen (N) fertilizer contribute to nitrous oxide emissions?
  4. What are the best practices to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions caused by fertilizer use?

This is a Teacher-submitted Lesson Plan.

Contributed by Dr. Shikha Gulati, Assistant Professor, Sri Venkateswara College (University of Delhi), India.

Want to know more about how to contribute? Contact us.

About Lesson Plan

Grade Level Undergraduate
Discipline Chemistry
Topic(s) in Discipline
  • Fertilizers, Types of Fertilizers
  • Fertilizers in Agriculture
  • Effects of the Use of Fertilizers on the Environment
  • Management of Fertilizers
Climate Topic
  • Climate and the Atmosphere
  • The Greenhouse Effect
Location Global
Language(s) English
Access Online
Time Required
30-50 min


Micro-lecture (video) (~6 min) A micro-lecture to introduce the topic of fertilizers, the need for fertilizers, the types of fertilizers used in agriculture, and the benefits and potential risks of using them.

Visualisation (~10 min) A simplified diagram to explain the nitrogen cycle in agricultural practices and the resultant emission of a GHG nitrous oxide (N20) by the application of nitrogen (N) fertilizers.

Go to the Visualisation

Visualisation and Data Set (~10 min) A visualization and corresponding data set to show the global warming potential (GWP) of one-unit masses of various GHGs, including N20, relative to that of carbon dioxide.

Video (~5 min) A video that briefly explains how fertilizers affect plant growth and how a GHG N2O is released to the atmosphere due to soil bacterial action on N fertilizers. Best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate these adverse effects of fertilizer use are also introduced here.

Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.

1 Introduce the topic by playing a micro-lecture (video)
  • Play the micro-lecture (video) “Introduction to Fertilizer” by Dr. John Shields, interim director of the IFDC Research and Development Division. The tool will help you to introduce the topic of fertilizers, the different types of fertilizers and their compositions and their relative advantages and disadvantages.
  • Use the video to explain how excess nutrients added to the soil are harmful to the environment and discuss what the consequences could be.
  • Finally, discuss the need for using fertilizers in agriculture to feed the increasing global population.
  • The micro-lecture (video) can be accessed at:
2 Discuss the topic further by using a visualization
3 Explain using a visualization and the analysis of a data set
4 Play a video to explore possible ways to mitigate the undesired effects of fertilizer use
  • Play the video “  for an overview of the need to use fertilizers in agriculture and best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate the adverse effects of fertilizer use on global warming.
  • The video is available at: