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Assessment of nitrogen losses through nitrous oxide from abattoir wastewater-irrigated soils

Matheyarasu, Raghupathi, Seshadri, Balaji, Bolan, Nanthi S., Naidu, Ravi
Environmental science and pollution research international 2016 v.23 no.22 pp. 22633-22646
Helianthus annuus, Medicago sativa, Sinapis alba, Zea mays, carbon, crops, cross contamination, field capacity, gas chromatography, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nitrous oxide, planting, slaughterhouses, wastewater, wastewater irrigation, wastewater treatment
The land disposal of waste and wastewater is a major source of N₂O emission. This is due to the presence of high concentrations of nitrogen (N) and carbon in the waste. Abattoir wastewater contains 186 mg/L of N and 30.4 mg/L of P. The equivalent of 3 kg of abattoir wastewater-irrigated soil was sieved and taken in a 4-L plastic container. Abattoir wastewater was used for irrigating the plants at the rates of 50 and 100 % field capacity (FC). Four crop species were used with no crop serving as a control. Nitrous oxide emission was monitored using a closed chamber technique. The chamber was placed inside the plastic container, and N₂O emission was measured for 7 days after the planting. A syringe and pre-evacuated vial were used for collecting the gas samples; a fresh and clean syringe was used each time to avoid cross-contamination. The collected gas samples were injected into a gas chromatography device immediately after each sampling to analyse the concentration of N₂O from different treatments. The overall N₂O emission was compared for all the crops under two different abattoir wastewater treatment rates (50 and 100 % FC). Under 100 % FC (wastewater irrigation), among the four species grown in the abattoir wastewater-irrigated soil, Medicago sativa (23 mg/pot), Sinapis alba (21 mg/pot), Zea mays (20 mg/pot) and Helianthus annuus (20 mg/pot) showed higher N₂O emission compared to the 50 % treatments—M. sativa (17 mg/pot), S. alba (17 mg/pot), Z. mays (18 mg/pot) and H. annuus (18 mg/pot). Similarly, pots with plants have shown 15 % less emission than the pots without plants. Similar trends of N₂O emission flux were observed between the irrigation period (4-week period) for 50 % FC and 100 % FC. Under the 100 % FC loading rate treatments, the highest N₂O emission was in the following order: week 1 > week 4 > week 3 > week 2. On the other hand, under the 50 % FC loading rate treatments, the highest N₂O emission was recorded in the first few weeks and in the following order: week 1 > week 2 > week 3 > week > 4. Since N₂O is a greenhouse gas with high global warming potential, its emission from wastewater irrigation is likely to impact global climate change. Therefore, it is important to examine the effects of abattoir wastewater irrigation on soil for N₂O emission potential.