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Fate of 15N-labelled ammonium nitrate with or without the new nitrification inhibitor DMPSA in an irrigated maize crop

Guardia, Guillermo, Vallejo, Antonio, Cardenas, Laura M., Dixon, Elizabeth R., García-Marco, Sonia
Soil biology & biochemistry 2018 v.116 pp. 193-202
Zea mays, ammonium nitrate, biomass, carbon dioxide, cell respiration, corn, denitrification, dicyandiamide, field experimentation, greenhouse gas emissions, irrigated farming, irrigation, leaching, methane, microorganisms, nitrification, nitrification inhibitors, nitrogen, nitrous oxide, oxidation, phosphates, semiarid zones, soil, soil minerals, succinic acid, yield components
Nitrification inhibitors, originally proposed for nitrate leaching mitigation, are recommended as effective nitrous oxide (N2O) mitigation strategies. Several compounds have been trialled and used in the past including dicyandiamide (DCD) or 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate (DMPP). Yet, little is known about the new nitrification inhibitor 2-(3,4-dimethyl-1H-pyrazol-1-yl) succinic acid isomeric mixture (DMPSA). A field experiment using 15N single-labelled ammonium nitrate (15NH4NO3 or NH415NO3) was conducted to understand the effectiveness of DMPSA on a biochemical basis in an irrigated maize (Zea mays L.) crop. Gaseous fluxes, i.e. N2O, 15N2O, 15N2, methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2) were measured, as well as soil mineral N, yield components and 15N recovery in plant and soil. During the maize cropping period, the use of DMPSA significantly reduced cumulative N2O emissions (118 g N ha−1) compared to ammonium nitrate without inhibitor (231 g N ha−1). The 15N analyses revealed that most N2O losses (particularly during the emission peak) came from 15NH4NO3 (i.e. nitrification, nitrifier denitrification and/or coupled nitrification denitrification) rather than NH415NO3 in this calcareous low C-content soil. As expected, DMPSA decreased N2O losses from 15NH4+ oxidation, but an effect on non-target microorganisms was noticed, as shown by the significant reduction of respiration rates and N2O losses coming from 15NO3−. No significant effect of DMPSA on CH4 oxidation or 15N2 fluxes was observed. The DMPSA did not lead to a significant improvement of the dry weights of grain or biomass, although an increment of root biomass by 64% was found. This compound also tended to increase plant N recovery (average 67.8%) and to decrease soil N recovery (average 18.3%) but differences were not statistically significant. Conversely, the nitrification inhibitor significantly reduced the residual fertilizer-N in the 15–30 cm and 30–45 cm soil layers. The use of DMPSA was confirmed as a highly effective tool to reduce N2O emissions from irrigated crops in semi-arid areas.