Sustainable agriculture: Guaranteeing yield while reducing greenhouse gases | 1/25/2020 | Staff
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The NUMAPS group of the UPV/EHU has analyzed the benefits of adding nitrification inhibitors to ammonium-based fertilizers. The study was conducted on a wheat crop and compared a conventional tillage management system with one involving minimum tillage. To do this, parameters such as grain yield and quality, efficiency in nitrogen use and greenhouse gas emissions, among other things, were measured.

Crop growth is limited by the nitrogen availability in the soil, one of the primary elements of plants, the deficiency of which leads to a fall in agricultural yield. So nitrogen needs to be added to the soil in the form of nitrogen fertilizers. Yet this applied nitrogen may not be efficiently used by the crop. This fact not only leads to significant economic losses for the farming sector, it causes environmental problems, such as water eutrophication due to nitrate leaching, ammonia volatilization, and production of nitrogen oxide (nitric oxide and nitrous oxide) produced by the microorganisms in the soil. The emission of nitrous oxide (N2O) is hugely significant, as it is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 265 times higher than that of CO2.

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In order to mitigate these nitrogen losses in agriculture, "agronomic research has to focus on optimizing the use of nitrogen fertilizers by developing better farming practices that will not only help to prevent leaching and gaseous losses, but also to obtain maximum crop yield and quality," says Ph.D. student Mario Corrochano-Monsalve, one of the researchers in the NUMAPS (NUtrition MAnagement in Plant and Soil) group of the UPV/EHU.

In this respect, the researchers have conducted a study focusing on the use of nitrification inhibitors. Inhibitors of this type slow down the activity of certain bacteria that inhabit agricultural soils and which use the ammoniacal nitrogen provided by the fertilizers for their own growth, thus competing with...
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