The effect of cattle slurry in combination with nitrate and the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide on in situ nitrous oxide and dinitrogen emissions
Abstract. A field study was conducted to determine the effect of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) on N2O and N2 emissions after cattle slurry (CS) application in the presence of nitrate (NO3) fertiliser on seven different occasions (between March 2009 and March 2011). N2O emissions from CS in the presence of NO3 fertiliser were very high (0.4–8.7% of applied N) over a 20-day period, under mild moist conditions. Emissions were significantly larger from the CS treatment compared to an NH4+-N source, supplying the same rate of N as in the slurry. This study supports the view that organic fertilisers should not be applied at the same time as nitrate-based fertilisers, as significant increases in N2O emissions occur. The average N2O mole fraction (N2O/(N2O + N2)) over all seven application dates was 0.34 for CSNO3 compared to 0.24 for the NH4ClNO3 treatment, indicating the dominance of N2 emissions. The rate of nitrification in CSNO3 was slower than in NH4ClNO3, and DCD was found to be an effective nitrification inhibitor in both treatments. However, as N2O emissions were found to be predominantly associated with the NO3 pool, the effect of DCD in lowering N2O emissions is limited in the presence of a NO3 fertiliser. To obtain the maximum cost-benefit of DCD in lowering N2O emissions, under mild moist conditions, it should not be applied to a nitrate containing fertiliser (e.g. ammonium nitrate or calcium ammonium nitrate), and therefore the application of DCD should be restricted to ammonium-based organic or synthetic fertilisers.