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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 73 No. 4, p. 1335-1344
    Received: May 2, 2008

    * Corresponding author(s): Khalil_ibrahim@yahoo.com
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Gaseous Nitrogen Losses from a Cambisol Cropped to Spring Wheat with Urea Sizes and Placement Depths

  1. M. I. Khalil *ab,
  2. F. Bueggerc,
  3. M. Schramla,
  4. R. Gutsera,
  5. K. G. Richardsb and
  6. U. Schmidhaltera
  1. a Institute of Plant Nutrition, Dep. of Plant Sciences, Technische Universität München, 85350 Freising, Germany
    b Teagasc Environment Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland
    c Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environ. Health, Institute of Soil Ecology Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany


Globally identifying mitigation options for the emission of reactive N gases from agricultural soils is a research priority. We investigated the effect of urea size and placement depth on sources and emissions of N gases from a Cambisol cropped to spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). In Exp. 1, wheat received either prilled urea (PU) mixed within the soil, urea super granule (USG; diam. 10.1 mm) point-placed at a soil-depth of 7.5 cm, or no N fertilizer. In Exp. 2, wheat received either USG (diam. 10.2 mm) point-placed at 2.5-, 5.0-, and 7.5-cm soil depths, or no N fertilizer. In both experiments, maximum peaks for nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes and nitrification were delayed by 2 to 3 wk in the USG compared with the PU treatment. The added 15N-urea lost as 15N-N2O over 116 d was only 0.01% for both PU and USG treatments in Exp. 1. This loss for USGs was higher in Exp. 2 (0.02–0.15%) measured over 70 d, mainly related to higher moisture-induced denitrification. Temporal N2O fluxes were significantly related to changes in soil NO3 –N, water-filled pore space and NH4 +–N (R2 = 0.50, P < 0.05). However, the previous predictive model of Khalil et al. (2006) could best estimate its cumulative fluxes over time. The relative losses of ammonia (0.07–1.17%) and nitrogen oxides (0.19–1.54%) measured in Exp. 2 over 43 d decreased with increasing depths of USG placement. The USG point-placed at the 5.0- and 7.5-cm depths decreased the pooled gaseous N losses by 35 and 77%, respectively, over the shallower placement. The 15N results imply that soil N could be the major source of N2O emissions (79–97%). Field studies are suggested to validate our findings that the deeper placement of USG can decrease N emissions under arable cropping.

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