Nitrous oxide emissions from silage maize fields under different mineral nitrogen fertilizer and slurry applications

Groenigen, J.W. van; Kasper, G.J.; Velthof, G.L.; Pol-van Dasselaar, A. van den; Kuikman, P.J.


Intensive dairy farming systems are a large source of emission of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O), because of high nitrogen (N) application rates to grasslands and silage maize fields. The objective of this study was to compare measured N2O emissions from two different soils to default N2O emission factors, and to look at alternative emission factors based on (i) the N uptake in the crop and (ii) the N surplus of the system, i.e., N applied minus N uptake by the crop. Twelve N fertilization regimes were implemented on a sandy soil (typic endoaquoll) and a clay soil (typic endoaquept) in the Netherlands, and N2O emissions were measured throughout the growing season. Highest cumulative fluxes of 1.92 and 6.81 kg N2O-N ha-1for the sandy soil and clay soil were measured at the highest slurry application rate of 250 kg N ha-1. Background emissions from unfertilized soils were 0.14 and 1.52 kg N2O-N ha-1for the sandy soil and the clay soil, respectively. Emission factors for the sandy soil averaged 0.08, 0.51 and 0.26% of the N applied via fertilizer, slurry, and combinations of both. For the clay soil, these numbers were 1.18, 1.21 and 1.69%, respectively. Surplus N was linearly related to N2O emission for both the sandy soil (R2=0.60) and the clay soil (R2=0.40), indicating a possible alternative emission factor. We concluded that, in our study, N2O emission was not linearly related to N application rates, and varied with type and application rate of fertilizer. Finally, the relatively high emission from the clay soil indicates that background emissions might have to be taken into account in N2O budgets.