Impact of different forms of N fertilizer on N2O emissions from intensive grassland

  • Dobbie K
  • Smith K
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Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions were measured over two years from an intensively managed grassland site in the UK. Emissions from ammonium nitrate (AN) and urea (UR) were compared to those from urea modified by various inhibitors (a nitrification inhibitor, UR(N), a urease inhibitor, UR(U), and both inhibitors together, SU), as well as a controlled release urea (CR). N2O fluxes varied through time and between treatments. The differences between the treatments were not consistent throughout the year. After the spring and early summer fertilizer applications, fluxes from AN plots were greater than fluxes from UR plots, e.g. the cumulative fluxes for one month after N application in June 1999 were 5.2 ± 1.1 kg N2O-N ha-1 from the AN plots, compared to 1.4 ± 1.0 kg N2O-N ha-1 from the UR plots. However, after the late summer application, there was no difference between the two treatments, e.g. cumulative fluxes for the month following N application in August 2000 were 3.3 ± 0.7 kg N2O-N ha-1 from the AN plots and 2.9 ± 1.1 kg N2O-N ha-1 from the UR plots. After all N applications, fluxes from the UR(N) plots were much less than those from either the AN or the UR plots, e.g. 0.2 ± 0.1 kg N2O-N ha-1 in June 1999 and 1.1 ± 0.3 kg N2O-N ha-1 in August 2000. Combining the results of this experiment with earlier work showed that there was a greater N2O emission response to rainfall around the time of fertilizer application in the AN plots than in the UR plots. It was concluded that there is scope for reducing N2O emissions from N-fertilized grassland by applying UR instead of AN to wet soils in cool conditions, e.g. when grass growth begins in spring. Applying UR with a nitrification inhibitor could cut emissions further.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Fertilizer
  • Grassland
  • Inhibitor
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Soil

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