Nitrogen fertiliser interactions with urine deposit affect nitrous oxide emissions from grazed grasslands

JM Maire*, Dominika Krol, D. Pasquier, Nicholas J Cowan, Ute M Skiba, RM Rees, Dave S Reay, Gary J Lanigan, Karl G Richards

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    Cattle excreta deposited on grazed pastures are responsible for one fifth of the global anthropogenic nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. One of the key nitrogen (N) sources is urine deposited from grazing animals, which contributes to very large N loadings within small areas. The main objective of this plot study was to establish whether the application of N fertiliser and urine deposit from dairy cows synergistically interacts and thereby increases N2O emissions, and how such interaction is influenced by the timing of application. The combined application of fertiliser (calcium ammonium nitrate) and urine significantly increased the cumulative N2O emissions as well as the N2O emission factor (EF) from 0.35 to 0.74 % in spring and from 0.26 to 0.52 % in summer. By contrast, EFs were lower when only fertiliser (0.31 % in spring, 0.07 % in summer) or urine was applied (0.33 % in spring, 0.28 % in summer). In autumn, N2O emissions were larger than in other seasons and the emissions from the combined application were not statistically different to those from either the separately applied urine or N fertiliser (EF ranging from 0.72 to 0.83, p-value<0.05). The absence of significant synergistic effect could be explained by weather conditions, particularly rainfall during the three days prior to and after application in autumn. This study implies that the interactive effects of N fertilisation and urine deposit, as well as the timing of the application on N2O emission need to be taken into account in greenhouse gas emission inventories.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106784
    JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
    Early online date6 Dec 2019
    Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Mar 2020


    • Calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser
    • Dairy cattle
    • Emission factors
    • Urine
    • Yield


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