The NZAGRC’s former nitrous oxide and soil carbon work streams were combined into one programme this year. This ensures a strong overall framework, closer communication and full GHG analyses across the programme. The programme focusses on three key areas:
1. Identifying and prioritising plant traits for low GHG emissions;
2. Mitigation practices to maintain soil carbon and reduce nitrous oxide emissions at paddock scale; and
3. Defining the achievable soil carbon stabilisation capacity of New Zealand grassland soils.
Current progress and research stories
Potential for forage diet manipulation in New Zealand pasture ecosystems to mitigate ruminant urine derived N2O emissions: a review
Gardiner, C. A., T. J. Clough, et al. (2016). "Potential for forage diet manipulation in New Zealand pasture ecosystems to mitigate ruminant urine derived N2O emissions: a review." New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research59(3): 301-317.
ABSTRACTNitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from agricultural soils account for more than 10% of New Zealand?s greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock urine deposition drives N2O losses from these soils. It has been speculated that non-urea nitrogen compounds (UNCs) in ruminant urine could reduce or inhibit urine patch N2O emissions. However, we hypothesise that UNCs will have no effect on N2O emissions due to their potentially rapid degradation by plants and soil microbes. Our review suggests that plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) are more likely to perform a role in reducing N2O emissions since many PSMs have known antimicrobial properties. Aucubin, found in Plantago, and isothiocyanates, found in Brassica, have been shown to inhibit a key step in N2O production. Future studies should explore this promising research gap by evaluating forages for potential inhibitory PSMs, assessing whether PSMs are excreted in urine after consumption, and determine whether excretal PSM concentrations are sufficient to reduce N2O emissions.