John Bennet Lawes (1814-1900)
More than 175 years ago, a scientific debate was raging in Europe over the importance of N for the growth of plants. British scientists Bennet Lawes and Joseph Henry Gilbert settled the debate when they published research showing that the addition of N fertilizers increased wheat yields in England. Fifty years later, industrialized nations were challenged with how to feed their growing populations and Great Britain was importing the majority of its wheat. In 1898, William Crooks, president for the British Association for the Advancement of Science, called for chemistry researchers to find solutions to aid in the manufacture of N fertilizers to help solve the coming food crisis.