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J Environ Qual. 2013 Nov;42(6):1623-34. doi: 10.2134/jeq2013.05.0167.

Optimal fertilizer nitrogen rates and yield-scaled global warming potential in drill seeded rice.


Drill seeded rice ( L.) is the dominant rice cultivation practice in the United States. Although drill seeded systems can lead to significant CH and NO emissions due to anaerobic and aerobic soil conditions, the relationship between high-yielding management practices, particularly fertilizer N management, and total global warming potential (GWP) remains unclear. We conducted three field experiments in California and Arkansas to test the hypothesis that by optimizing grain yield through N management, the lowest yield-scaled global warming potential (GWP = GWP Mg grain) is achieved. Each growing season, urea was applied at rates ranging from 0 to 224 kg N ha before the permanent flood. Emissions of CH and NO were measured daily to weekly during growing seasons and fallow periods. Annual CH emissions ranged from 9.3 to 193 kg CH-C ha yr across sites, and annual NO emissions averaged 1.3 kg NO-N ha yr. Relative to NO emissions, CH dominated growing season (82%) and annual (68%) GWP. The impacts of fertilizer N rates on GHG fluxes were confined to the growing season, with increasing N rate having little effect on CH emissions but contributing to greater NO emissions during nonflooded periods. The fallow period contributed between 7 and 39% of annual GWP across sites years. This finding illustrates the need to include fallow period measurements in annual emissions estimates. Growing season GWP ranged from 130 to 686 kg CO eq Mg season across sites and years. Fertilizer N rate had no significant effect on GWP; therefore, achieving the highest productivity is not at the cost of higher GWP.


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