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Challenges and opportunities for mitigating nitrous oxide emissions from fertilized cropping systems

Venterea, Rodney T, Halvorson, Ardell D, Kitchen, Newell, Liebig, Mark A, Cavigelli, Michel A, Grosso, Stephen J Del, Motavalli, Peter P, Nelson, Kelly A, Spokas, Kurt A, Singh, Bhupinder Pal, Stewart, Catherine E, Ranaivoson, Andry, Strock, Jeffrey, Collins, Hal
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2012 v.10 no.10 pp. 562
crop yield, cropping systems, fertilizer application, greenhouse gas emissions, growing season, new technology, nitrogen fertilizers, nitrous oxide, risk reduction, United States
Nitrous oxide (N₂O) is often the largest single component of the greenhouse‐gas budget of individual cropping systems, as well as for the US agricultural sector as a whole. Here, we highlight the factors that make mitigating N₂O emissions from fertilized agroecosystems such a difficult challenge, and discuss how these factors limit the effectiveness of existing practices and therefore require new technologies and fresh ideas. Modification of the rate, source, placement, and/or timing of nitrogen fertilizer application has in some cases been an effective way to reduce N₂O emissions. However, the efficacy of existing approaches to reducing N₂O emissions while maintaining crop yields across locations and growing seasons is uncertain because of the interaction of multiple factors that regulate several different N₂O‐producing processes in soil. Although these processes have been well studied, our understanding of key aspects and our ability to manage them to mitigate N₂O emissions remain limited.