Fertilization scenarios in sprinkler irrigated corn under Mediterranean conditions: effects on greenhouse gas emissions
Arrúe, José Luis
Isla Climente, Ramón
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Agricultural soils emit greenhouse gases (GHG). Excessive application of N fertilizer may lead to the accumulation of mineral N in the soil, which is susceptible to loss to the environment. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of two levels of available mineral N before planting (L, low; H, high) and two rates of NH4NO3 fertilizer (0 and 300 kg N ha(-1)) on soil CH4, CO2, and N2O emissions in a sprinkler-irrigated corn (Zea mays L.) field located in northeastern Spain during two growing seasons (2011 and 2012). For both soil N levels at planting, several sampling dates showed higher N2O emissions in the 300 kg N ha(-1) treatment than the 0 kg N ha(-1) treatment. Applications of N fertilizer resulted in a short-lived increase of N2O emitted. Differences among fertilization treatments were found for soil CO2 emissions in 2011 and for soil N2O emissions in 2011 and 2012. No differences were found between treatments for CH4. In the 2012 season, the application of 300 kg N ha(-1) in the L scenario reduced N2O yield-scaled emissions (g N2O-N kg(-1) aboveground N uptake) by 30% due to a significant increase in corn yield (7.6 Mg grain ha(-1)) compared with the treatment without N. Conversely, under the H scenario, N application doubled yield-scaled N2O emissions. Results of this study demonstrate that fertilization strategies need to take into account mineral N levels in the soil before sowing to reduce GHG emissions during the growing season.