Articles | Volume 13, issue 15
Research article
12 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 12 Aug 2016

Greenhouse gas emissions and reactive nitrogen releases from rice production with simultaneous incorporation of wheat straw and nitrogen fertilizer

Longlong Xia, Yongqiu Xia, Shutan Ma, Jinyang Wang, Shuwei Wang, Wei Zhou, and Xiaoyuan Yan

Abstract. Impacts of simultaneous inputs of crop straw and nitrogen (N) fertilizer on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and N losses from rice production are not well understood. A 2-year field experiment was established in a rice–wheat cropping system in the Taihu Lake region (TLR) of China to evaluate the GHG intensity (GHGI) as well as reactive N intensity (NrI) of rice production with inputs of wheat straw and N fertilizer. The field experiment included five treatments of different N fertilization rates for rice production: 0 (RN0), 120 (RN120), 180 (RN180), 240 (RN240), and 300 kg N ha−1 (RN300, traditional N application rate in the TLR). Wheat straws were fully incorporated into soil before rice transplantation. The meta-analytic technique was employed to evaluate various Nr losses. Results showed that the response of rice yield to N rate successfully fitted a quadratic model, while N fertilization promoted Nr discharges exponentially (nitrous oxide emission, N leaching, and runoff) or linearly (ammonia volatilization). The GHGI of rice production ranged from 1.20 (RN240) to 1.61 kg CO2 equivalent (CO2 eq) kg−1 (RN0), while NrI varied from 2.14 (RN0) to 10.92 g N kg−1 (RN300). Methane (CH4) emission dominated the GHGI with a proportion of 70.2–88.6 % due to direct straw incorporation, while ammonia (NH3) volatilization dominated the NrI with proportion of 53.5–57.4 %. Damage costs to environment incurred by GHG and Nr releases from current rice production (RN300) accounted for 8.8 and 4.9 % of farmers' incomes, respectively. Cutting N application rate from 300 (traditional N rate) to 240 kg N ha−1 could improve rice yield and nitrogen use efficiency by 2.14 and 10.30 %, respectively, while simultaneously reducing GHGI by 13 %, NrI by 23 %, and total environmental costs by 16 %. Moreover, the reduction of 60 kg N ha−1 improved farmers' income by CNY 639 ha−1, which would provide them with an incentive to change the current N application rate. Our study suggests that GHG and Nr releases, especially for CH4 emission and NH3 volatilization, from rice production in the TLR could be further reduced, considering the current incorporation pattern of wheat straw and N fertilizer.

Short summary
Through a 2-year field experiment and meta-analysis, we found higher GHG (dominated by CH4 emission) and Nr (dominated by NH3 volatilization) was released from rice production in TLR, causing great environmental costs, due to direct straw incorporation and excessive N fertilization. Sensible N reduction reduced the GHG and Nr to some extent, but further mitigation is possible, especially for CH4 emission and NH3 volatilization, considering current incorporation pattern of straw and N fertilizer.
Final-revised paper