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Nitrous oxide emissions with enhanced efficiency and conventional urea fertilizers in winter wheat

An, H., J. Owens, B. Beres, Y. Li and X. Hao. 2021.


Optimizing nitrogen fertilizer manage- ment can reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. This study tested if split applying enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFs) resulted in lower N2O emissions than applying equivalent rates of urea at planting. In semiarid southern Alberta, field trials were conducted during three years (planting to harvest) in rainfed winter wheat crops. Annual fertilizer rates ranged from 146 to 176 kg N ha-1. Fertilizer types were urea, and three EEFs (polymer-coated urea, urea with urease and nitrification inhibitors, and urea with a nitrifica- tion inhibitor). Each fertilizer type was applied three ways: 100% banded at planting, split applied 30% banded at planting and 70% broadcast in late fall, and split applied 30% banded at planting and 70% broadcast at Feekes growth stage 4 (GS4, post-tiller formation, wheat entering the greening up phase in the early spring). Nitrous oxide was measured using static chambers between sub-weekly and monthly from planting to harvest. Over three years, cumulative N2O emissions ranged from 0.16 to 1.32 kg N ha-1.This was equivalent to emissions factors between 0.009 and 0.688%. Cumulative N2O emissions and emissions factors did not differ between fertilizer types, but they were lower when fertilizer was split applied at GS4 compared to in late fall (0.10 ≥ P ). Our study suggests that EEFs do not reduce N2O emissions from rainfed winter wheat crops, but a well-timed split application with a majority of fertilizer applied after winter can minimize N2O emissions.

Key Words

Nitrogen fertilizer, Nitrification inhibitor, Polymer-coated urea, Urease inhibitor