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Nitrogen fertilization did not impact CH4 and N2O emissions in restored agricultural wetlands


Restoring drained peatlands is considered a climate change mitigation action. However, mitigating effects of wetlands restored for agricultural production largely depends on management intensity.

In the January-February issue of the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers report on the nitrogen (N) fertilization effect on CH4 and N2O emissions in restored peatlands converted to rice production in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where soil subsidence and intensive greenhouse gas emissions is undermining the sustainability of regional agriculture.  

The team found that N fertilization at rates up to 200% of the commonly applied rate (80 kg N ha-1) lowered grain yields and did not improve plant above- and below-ground biomass production. Additionally, the fertilization did not change plant contribution to soil dissolved organic carbon pools and CH4 emissions, demonstrated by two 13C-CO2 pulse labeling experiments in the field. Ultimately, N fertilization did not affect total annual CH4 and N2O emissions.  

Emissions as a function of N addition

This study suggests that N availability is not the limiting factor that regulates CH4 and N2O emissions in these restored degraded peat soils. Management other than N fertilization may determine the effectiveness of rice cultivation as a regional solution to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in the Delta.

Read the full article in SSSAJ. Free preview May 5 - May 12