Can the agronomic performance of urea equal calcium ammonium nitrate across nitrogen rates in temperate grassland?

P.J. Forrestal, M.A. Harty*, R. Carolan, C.J. Watson, G.J. Lanigan, D.P. Wall, D. Hennessy, K.G. Richards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In temperate grassland, urea has been shown to have lower nitrous oxide emissions compared to ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer and is less expensive. However, nitrogen (N) loss via ammonia volatilization from urea raises questions regarding yield performance and efficiency. This study compares the yield and N offtake of grass fertilized with urea, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) and urea treated with the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) at six site-years. Five annual fertilizer N rates (100–500 kg N/ha) were applied in five equal splits of 20–100 kg N/ha during the growing season. On average, urea produced slightly better yields than CAN in spring (103.5% of CAN yield) and slightly poorer yields in summer (98.4% of CAN yield). There was no significant difference in annual grass yield between urea, CAN and urea + NBPT. Urea had the lowest cost per tonne of DM grass yield produced. However, the urea treatment had lower N offtake than CAN and this difference was more pronounced as the N rate increased. There was no difference in N offtake between urea + NBPT and CAN. While this study shows that urea produced yields comparable to CAN, urea apparent fertilizer N recovery (AFNR) tends to be lower. Urea selection in place of CAN will increase national ammonia emissions which is problematic for countries with targets to reduce ammonia emissions. Promisingly, NBPT allows the agronomic performance of urea to consistently equal CAN across N rates by addressing the ammonia loss limitations of urea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-251
JournalSoil Use and Management
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

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