Inhibition of nitrification to mitigate nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions in grazed grassland: a review
Climate change is arguably the biggest environmental challenge facing humanity today. Livestock production systems are a major source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a potent greenhouse gas with a long-term global warming potential 298 times that of carbon dioxide (CO2). Nitrate (NO3 −) leaching from soil causes water contamination, and this is a major environmental issue worldwide. Agriculture is identified as the dominant source for NO3 − in surface and ground waters. In grazed grassland systems where animals graze outdoor pastures, most of the N2O and NO3 − are from nitrogen (N) returned to the soil in the excreta of the grazing animal, particularly the urine. This paper reviews published literature on the use of nitrification inhibitors (NI) to treat grazed pasture soils to mitigate NO3 − leaching and N2O emissions.
Materials and methods
This paper provides a review on: ammonia oxidisers, including ammonia oxidising bacteria (AOB) and ammonia oxidising archaea (AOA), that are responsible for ammonia oxidation in the urine patch areas of grazed pastures; the effectiveness of NIs, such as dicyandiamide (DCD) and 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP), in inhibiting the growth and activity of ammonia oxidisers; the efficacy of DCD and DMPP in reducing NO3 − leaching and N2O emissions in grazed pastures; additional benefits of using NI in grazed pasture, including increased pasture production, decreased cation leaching and decreased NO3 − concentrations in plants; and major factors that may affect the efficacy of NIs.
Results and discussion
Research from a number of laboratory and field studies have conclusively demonstrated that treating grazed pasture soils with a NI, such as DCD, is an effective means of reducing NO3 − leaching and N2O emissions from grazed livestock production systems. Results show that N2O emissions from animal urine-N can be reduced by an average of 57 % and NO3 − leaching from animal urine patches can be reduced by 30 to 50 %. The NI technology has been shown to be effective under a wide range of soil and environmental conditions. The NI technology also provides other benefits, including increased pasture production, reduced cation (Ca2+, Mg2+ and K+) leaching and reduced NO3 − concentration in pasture plants which would reduce the risk of NO3 − poisoning for the animal.
The use of NIs such as DCD to treat grazed pasture soil is a scientifically sound and practically viable technology that can effectively mitigate NO3 − leaching and N2O emissions in grazed livestock production systems.
KeywordsAmmonia oxidising archaea Ammonia oxidising bacteria Grazed pastures Nitrate leaching Nitrification inhibitor Nitrous oxide emissions
We would like to thank Dr. Barbara Brown for technical support with this review.
- Burgemeister M (2003) Nitrate and nitrite—an update. Dairy cattle. Proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Combined Dairy Veterinarians Conference, Taupo, pp 505–516Google Scholar
- Cameron KC, Di HJ, Moir JL, Roberts AHC (2007) Reducing nitrate leaching losses from a Taupo Pumice soil using a nitrification inhibitor eco-n. Proc NZ Grassl Assoc 69:131–135Google Scholar
- European Commission (1995) Reports of the Scientific Committee for Food, 33rd Series. European Commission, Brussels, 86 pGoogle Scholar
- FAO (2006) Livestock’s long shadow, environmental issues and options. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
- Gillingham AG, Ledgard SF, Saggar S, Cameron KC, Di HJ, de Klein CAM, Aspin MD (2012) Initial evaluation of the effects of dicyandiamide (DCD) on nitrous oxide emissions, nitrate leaching and dry matter production from dairy pastures in a range of locations within New Zealand. In: Currie LD, Christensen CL (eds) Advanced nutrient management: gains from the past-goals for the future. Occasional report no. 25, FLRC. Massey University, Palmerston North, p 16Google Scholar
- Guo YJ, Di HJ, Cameron KC, Li B, Podolyan A, Moir JL, Monaghan RM, Smith LC, O’Callaghan M, Bowatte S, Waugh D, He J-Z (2013) Effect of seven years application of a nitrification inhibitor, dicyandiamide (DCD) on soil microbial biomass, protease and deaminase activities, and the abundance of bacteria and archaea in pasture soils. J Soils Sediments 13:753–759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hanly JA, Toes HB, Christensen CL, Hedley MJ, Currie LD (2010) The effect of four annual Eco-n applications on reducing N leaching from artificially drained Pallic soil in the Manawatu. A final report submitted to Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-op LtdGoogle Scholar
- Hatch D, Trindal H, Cardenas L, Carneiro J, Hawkins J, Scholefield D, Chadwick D (2005) Laboratory study of the effects of two nitrification inhibitors on greenhouse gas emissions from a slurry-treated arable soil: impact of diurnal temperature cycle. Biol Fertil Soils 41:225–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- He JZ, Shen JP, Zhang LM, Zhu YG, Zheng YM, Xu MG, Di HJ (2007) Quantitative analyses of the abundance and composition of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and ammonia-oxidizing archaea of a Chinese upland red soil under long-term fertilization practices. Environ Microbiol 9:2364–2374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- IPCC (2007) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. In: Solomon S, Qin M, Manning Z, Chen M, Marquis K, Avery T, Tignor M, Miller H (eds) Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change: frequently asked questions. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Jarvis SC, Scholefield D, Pain B (1995) Nitrogen cycling in grazing systems. In: Bacon PE (ed) Nitrogen fertilization in the environment. Marcel Dekker, New York, pp 381–419Google Scholar
- McDowell RW, Houlbrooke DJ (2009) The effect of DCD on nitrate leaching losses from a winter forage crop receiving applications of sheep or cattle dung. Proc N Z Grassl Assoc 71:117–120Google Scholar
- Moir J, Wild MA, Cameron KC, Di HJ (2010) The effect of DCD on nitrogen losses from sheep urine patches applied to lysimeters in autumn. Proc N Z Grassland Assoc 72:197–202Google Scholar
- OECD (2003) Cyanoguanidine. SIDS initial assessment report. UNEP Publications, Arona, Italy, 75 pGoogle Scholar
- Purkhold U, Pommerening-Röser A, Juretschko S, Schmid MC, Koops HJ, Wagner M (2000) Phylogeny of all recognized species of ammonia oxidizers based on comparative 16S rRNA and amoA sequence analysis: implications for molecular diversity surveys. Appl Environ Microbiol 66:5368–5382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Robinson A, Di HJ, Cameron KC, Podolyan A (2014b) Effect of soil aggregate size and DCD on N2O emissions and ammonia oxidiser abundance in a grazed pasture soil. Soil Use Manag 30:231–240Google Scholar
- Shen JP, Zhang LM, Di HJ, He J-Z (2012) A review of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and archaea in Chinese agricultural soils. Front Microbiol 3:1–7Google Scholar
- Shepherd M, Sprosen MS, Ledgard SF, Smeaton D (2009) Winter grazing of a forage crop: effects on nitrate leaching. In: Currie LD, Lindsay CL (eds) Nutrient management in a rapidly changing world. Occasional report no. 22. FLRC. Massey University, Palmerston NorthGoogle Scholar
- Subbarao GV, Sahrawat KL, Nakahara K, Ishikawa T, Kishii M et al (2012) Biological nitrification inhibition – a novel strategy to regulate nitrification in agricultural systems. Elsevier, London, pp 249–302, Adv Agron 114Google Scholar
- Trenkel ME (2010) Slow- and controlled-release and stabilized fertilizers: an option for enhancing nutrient use efficiency in agriculture. International Fertilizer Industry Association, Paris, 163 pGoogle Scholar
- Weiske A, Benckiser G, Herbert T, Ottow JCG (2001) Influence of the nitrification inhibitor 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPPP) in comparison to dicyandiamide (DCD) on nitrous oxide emissions, carbon dioxide fluxes and methane oxidation during 3 years of repeated application in field experiments. Biol Fertil Soils 34:109–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Zaman M, Blennerhassett JD (2010) Effects of the different rates of urease and nitrification inhibitors on gaseous emissions of ammonia and nitrous oxide, nitrate leaching and pasture production from urine patches in an intensive grazed pasture system. Agric Ecosyst Environ 136:236–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar