Using nitrification inhibitors and deep placement to tackle the trade-offs between NH3 and N2O emissions in global croplands

Zhang Chong, Xiaotong Song, Yaqian Zhang, RM Rees, Xiaotang Ju

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are two important air pollutants that have major impacts on climate change and biodiversity losses. Agriculture represents their largest source and effective mitigation measures of individual gases have been well studied. However, the interactions and trade-offs between NH3 and N2O emissions remain uncertain. Here we report the results of a two-year field experiment in a wheat-maize rotation in the North China Plain (NCP), a global hotspot of reactive N emissions. Our analysis is supported by a literature synthesis of global croplands, to understand the interactions between NH3 and N2O emissions, and to develop the most effective approaches to jointly mitigate NH3 and N2O emissions. Field results indicated that deep placement of urea with nitrification inhibitors (NIs) reduced both emissions of NH3 by 67% to 90% and N2O by 73% to 100%, respectively, in comparison with surface broadcast urea which is the common farmers’ practice. But deep placement of urea, surface broadcast urea with NIs and application of urea with urease inhibitors probably led to trade-offs between the two gases, with a mitigation potential of -201% to 101% for NH3 and -112% to 89% for N2O. The literature synthesis showed that deep placement of urea with NIs had an emission factor of 1.53%-4.02% for NH3 and 0.22%-0.36% for N2O, which were much lower than other fertilization regimes and the default values recommended by IPCC guidelines. This would translate to a reduction of 3.86-5.47 Tg N yr-1 of NH3 and 0.41-0.50 Tg N yr-1 of N2O emissions, respectively, when adopting deep placement of urea with NIs (relative to current practice) in global croplands. We conclude that the combination of NIs and deep placement of urea can successfully tackle the trade-offs between NH3 and N2O emissions, therefore avoiding N pollution swapping in global croplands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4409-4422
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume28
Issue number14
Early online date16 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 16 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Nitrous oxide
  • Ammonia
  • Nitrification inhibitor
  • climate change mitigation
  • Nitrogen
  • ammonia volatilization
  • N pollution swapping
  • nitrification inhibitors
  • deep placement
  • joint mitigation
  • nitrous oxide emissions
  • croplands
  • urease inhibitors

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