Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 267–277 | Cite as

Modelling NH3 volatilisation within a urine patch using NZ-DNDC

  • Donna GiltrapEmail author
  • Surinder Saggar
  • Jimena Rodriguez
  • Peter Bishop
Original Article


Urea concentrations in urine patches deposited during animal grazing can be over ten times higher than typical fertiliser application rates, potentially leading to large ammonia (NH3) losses. The process-based NZ-DNDC model was modified to better simulate soil pH changes and ammonia (NH3) emissions following urine application using data collected from a New Zealand field trial. After modification, simulated 30-day NH3 emissions decreased from 506 to 117 kg N ha−1 compared to measured emissions of 78 ± 3 kg N ha−1 (mean ± standard error) and the Nash–Sutcliffe Efficiency (NSE) for daily NH3 emissions increased from −7.11 to +0.97 for the parameterisation dataset. However, modified model correctly estimated the cumulative emissions for the first 7 days. Using the same parameterisation on an independent dataset from a nearby site gave cumulative 18-day NH3 emissions of 84 kg N  ha−1 compared to the measured 48 ± 2 kg N ha−1 (mean ± standard error). However, the NSE for daily NH3 emissions was −0.71, indicating site specific parameterisation might be needed. The sensitivity of NH3 emissions to ±5 and ±10% errors in 4 model parameters was tested. The sensitivities ranged from −0.36 to +0.71. The highest sensitivity was to the rate of NH3 transfer from the soil solution to the atmosphere and the lowest sensitivity was to the rate of urea hydrolysis.


Urine patch Ammonia (NH3NZ-DNDC model 



This research was supported by Core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group. The data used in these simulations were from experimental work funded by Ballance-Agrinutrients and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre. Thanks to Peter Berben and Thilak Palmada for their contribution to the experimental work, to Johannes Laubach and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on early drafts, and to Anne Austin for editing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna Giltrap
    • 1
    Email author
  • Surinder Saggar
    • 1
  • Jimena Rodriguez
    • 2
    • 3
  • Peter Bishop
    • 2
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  2. 2.Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  3. 3.Departamento de Suelos y Aguas, Facultad de AgronomiaUniversidad de la RepublicaMontevideoUruguay

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