Plants & GHGs

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

Nitrous oxide emissions from cattle urine deposited onto soil supporting a winter forage kale crop

van der Weerden, T. J., T. M. Styles, et al. (2017). "Nitrous oxide emissions from cattle urine deposited onto soil supporting a winter forage kale crop." New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research 60(2): 119-130.

Abstract
Wintering cows on forage crops leads to urine being excreted onto wet, compacted soils, which can result in significant emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O). A field trial was conducted to determine the N2O emission factor (EF3; proportion of urine-N lost as N2O-N) for dairy cows wintered on a kale forage crop on a poorly drained soil. Urine was collected from non-lactating dairy cows on a forage kale diet and applied at 550 kg N ha−1 to artificially compacted soil to simulate trampling and non-compacted soil in a kale field. Cumulative N2O losses over four months were 7.38 and 2.64 kg N2O-N ha−1 from urine applied to, respectively, compacted and non-compacted soil. The corresponding EF3 values 0.75% and 0.30%, respectively, differed (P = .003) due to compaction. Combining our results with previous studies, where brassica-fed livestock urine was applied to soils supporting a forage brassica crop, suggested a significant relationship between soil water-filled pore space (WFPS) and brassica-derived urine EF3 (P = .005).

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