Impact of tillage and N fertilization rate on soil N2O emissions in irrigated maize in a Mediterranean agroecosystem
Pareja Sánchez, Evangelina
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In irrigated Mediterranean conditions there is a lack of knowledge about the best combination of tillage and N fertilization practices to reduce soil nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions while maintaining maize productivity. The aim of this work was to investigate the effects of different soil management practices and synthetic N fertilization rates on soil N2O emissions and their relationship with maize grain yield to determine the best management system to reduce yield-scaled N2O emissions (YSNE) in a semiarid area recently converted to irrigation under Mediterranean conditions. A long-term tillage and N rate field experiment established in 1996 under barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) rainfed conditions, was converted to irrigated maize (Zea mays L.) in 2015. After the transformation to irrigation, the field experiment maintained the same tillage treatments and N fertilization rates. Three types of tillage (conventional tillage, CT; reduced tillage, RT; no-tillage, NT) and three mineral N fertilization rates (0, 200, 400 kg N ha−1) were compared during three years (2015-2017) in a randomized block design with three replications. Soil N2O emissions, water-filled pore space, soil temperature, mineral N content (as NH4+ and NO3−), denitrification potential and maize grain yield and above-ground N uptake were quantified. Moreover, the emission factor (EF) and YSNE were calculated. The results showed that the combination of NT and the highest rate of N fertilization led to greater N2O emissions. Furthermore, the lowest N2O fluxes were observed in CT when WFPS was below 40% and the highest N2O fluxes were seen in NT when WFPS was above 60% coinciding with the greatest denitrification potential. Cumulative N2O emissions in 2017 and 2015 followed the order 400 > 200 > 0 kg N ha−1, while in 2016, rate of 400 and 200 kg N ha−1 showed greater cumulative N2O emission compared to the control. Only RT showed differences between growing seasons on cumulative N2O emissions, with greater values in 2017 compared to 2015, and intermediate values in 2016. In all treatments, the N2O EF was much lower than the default IPCC emission factor (1%). NT and RT increased the grain production compared to CT which was affected by severe soil crusting causing water deficit. Likewise, N fertilizer treatments significantly affected the YSNE, increasing with increasing fertilizer N application rate in the first year of study. Our data show that the use of NT or RT does not lead to more yield-scaled N2O emissions than CT in Mediterranean agroecosystems recently converted to irrigation.
Is part ofAgriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 2020, vol. 287, article num. 106687
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