Biology and Fertility of Soils

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 693–705 | Cite as

Reducing NH3, N2O and \({\text{NO}}_3^ - \) –N losses from a pasture soil with urease or nitrification inhibitors and elemental S-amended nitrogenous fertilizers

  • M. Zaman
  • M. L. Nguyen
  • J. D. Blennerhassett
  • B. F. Quin
Original Paper


A 3-month field experiment comparing nitrogen (N) losses from and the agronomic efficiency of various N fertilizers was conducted on a sandy loam (Typic Hapludand) soil at Ruakura AgResearch farm, Hamilton, New Zealand during October to December 2003. Three replicates of seven treatments: urea, urea + the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (trade name Agrotain), urea + Agrotain + elemental sulphur (S), urea + double inhibitor [DI; i.e., Agrotain + dicyandiamide (DCD)], diammonium phosphate (DAP), DAP + S, each applied at 150 kg N ha−1, and control (no N). After fertilizer application, soil ammonium (\( \operatorname{NH} ^{ + }_{4} \)) and nitrate (\( \operatorname{NO} ^{ - }_{3} \)) concentrations (7.5-cm soil depth), ammonia (NH3) volatilization, nitrate (\( \operatorname{NO} ^{ - }_{3} \)) leaching, nitrous oxide (N2O) emission, pasture dry matter, and N uptake were monitored at different timings. Urea applied with Agrotain or Agrotain + S delayed urea hydrolysis and released soil \( \operatorname{NH} ^{ + }_{4} \) at a slower rate than urea alone or urea + DI. Urea applied with DI increased NH3 volatilization by 29% over urea alone, while urea + Agrotain and urea + Agrotain + S reduced NH3 volatilization by 45 and 48%, respectively. Ammonia volatilization losses from DAP were lower than those from urea with or without inhibitors. Total reduction in \( \operatorname{NO} ^{ - }_{3} \) leaching losses for urea + DI and urea + Agrotain compared to urea alone were 89% and 47%, respectively. Application of S with urea + Agrotain reduced \( \operatorname{NO} ^{ - }_{3} \) leaching losses by an additional 6%. Nitrous oxide emissions were higher from the DAP and urea alone treatments. Urea applied with DI and urea + Agrotain reduced N2O emissions by 37 and 5%, respectively, over urea alone. Compared to urea alone, total pasture production increased by 20, 17, and 15% for urea + Agrotain + S, urea + Agrotain, and urea + DI treatments, respectively, representing 86, 71, and 64% increases in N response efficiency. Total N uptake in urea + Agrotain, urea + Agrotain + S, and urea + DI increased by 29, 22, and 20%, respectively, compared to urea alone. These results suggest that the combination of both urease and nitrification inhibitors may have the most potential to reduce N losses and improve pasture production in intensively grazed systems.


Urea Urease inhibitor (NBPT) Nitrification inhibitor (DCD) NH3 and N2O emissions \( \operatorname{NO} ^{ - }_{3} \) leaching Pasture 



We thank Summit Quinphos (NZ) Ltd. and National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd. (NIWA) Hamilton for funding this project, James Sukias, Kerry Costley, Sohail and Sajad for their assistance in field and lab work, and Shazia Zaman for her assistance in proofreading.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Zaman
    • 1
  • M. L. Nguyen
    • 2
  • J. D. Blennerhassett
    • 1
  • B. F. Quin
    • 3
  1. 1.Summit-Quinphos (NZ) LtdAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Section Head Soil and Water Management & Crop NutritionJoint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and AgricultureViennaAustria
  3. 3.Quin Environmentals (NZ) LtdAucklandNew Zealand

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