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Sci Total Environ. 2008 Feb 15;390(2-3):485-94. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Ammonia volatilization from a paddy field following applications of urea: rice plants are both an absorber and an emitter for atmospheric ammonia.

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  • 1Carbon and Nutrients Cycles Division, National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, 3-1-3, Kan-nondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8604, Japan.


Ammonia (NH(3)) volatilization from a paddy field following applications of urea was measured. Two lysimeters of Gray Lowland soil with a pH (H(2)O) of 5.7 were used for the experiment. Urea was applied at a rate of 50 kg N ha(-1) by incorporation as the basal fertilization (BF) and at rates of 30 and 10 kg N ha(-1) by top-dressing as the first (SF1) and second (SF2) supplemental fertilizations, respectively. Two wind tunnels per lysimeter were installed just after BF; one was transplanted with rice plants (PR plot), and the other was without rice plants (NR plot). Weak volatilization was observed at the PR plots after BF. By contrast, strong volatilization was observed at the PR plots after SF1 with a maximum flux of 150 g N ha(-1) h(-1); however, almost no volatilization was observed after SF2. The NH(3) volatilization loss accounted for 2.1%, 20.9%, 0.5%, and 8.2% of the applied urea at each application, BF, SF1, SF2, and the total application, respectively, for which only the net fluxes as volatilization were accumulated. The NH(3) volatilization fluxes from the paddy water surface (F(vol)) at the NR plots were estimated using a film model for its verification. After confirmation of good correlation, the film model was applied to estimate F(vol) at the PR plots. The NH(3) exchange fluxes by rice plants (F(ric)) were obtained by subtracting F(vol) from the observed net NH(3) flux. The derived F(ric) showed that the rice plants emitted NH(3) remarkably just after SF1 when a relatively high rate of urea was applied, although they absorbed atmospheric NH(3) in the other periods. In conclusion, rice plants are essentially an absorber of atmospheric NH(3); however, they turn into an emitter of NH(3) under excess nutrition of ammoniacal nitrogen.

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