Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 16, pp 15885–15895 | Cite as

Environmental impact of rice production based on nitrogen fertilizer use

  • Mandana Tayefeh
  • Seyyed Mustafa Sadeghi
  • Seyyed Ali Noorhosseini
  • Jacopo Bacenetti
  • Christos A. Damalas
Research Article


While essential to food production, nitrogen (N) fertilizers in agricultural ecosystems are also important sources of environmental pollution nationally and globally. The environmental impact of three N fertilization levels (30, 60, and 90 kg ha−1) plus a non-N control (0 kg ha−1) in growing three rice cultivars (cv. Hashemi, cv. Alikazemi, and cv. Khazar) were assessed for 2 years in northern Iran, with the methodology of the life cycle assessment (LCA). The impact categories evaluated in this study were global warming, acidification, terrestrial eutrophication, and depletion of fossil, phosphate, and potassium resources. Over cultivars, no use of N fertilizer provided the lowest grain yield (2194 kg ha−1), whereas the N rates of 60 and 90 kg ha−1 increased grain yield by 52.9 and 66.9%, respectively. Over N rates, cv. Khazar produced the highest grain yield (3415 kg ha−1) and cv. Hashemi the lowest (2663 kg ha−1). On-farm (foreground) emissions were higher than off-farm (background) emissions in most impact categories. The maximum value of environmental index (1.33) was observed for cv. Hashemi with 90 kg N ha−1, while the minimum value (0.38) was observed for cv. Khazar without N fertilization. Moreover, cv. Khazar showed the lowest resource depletion index (0.44) with 90 kg N ha−1, whereas cv. Hashemi with no use of N showed the maximum value (0.96). Over cultivars, high N rates imposed drastic impact to the categories acidification and terrestrial eutrophication. However, selection of high-yielding cultivars significantly alleviated the impact to most categories. Fertilization that enables optimal yields, in accordance with the nutrient requirements of crops, ensures the most efficient land use and sustainable rice production.


Eutrophication Depletion of resources Global warming LCA Rice production 


  1. Abeliotis K, Detsis V, Pappia C (2013) Life cycle assessment of bean production in the Prespa National Park. Greece. J Clean Prod 41:89–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Artacho P, Bonomelli C, Meza F (2009) Nitrogen application in irrigated rice grown in mediterranean conditions: effects on grain yield, dry matter production, nitrogen uptake, and nitrogen use efficiency. J Plant Nutr 32:1574–1593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asman WAH (1992) Ammonia emissions for Europe. Report no. 228471008 for National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection, Bilthoven, NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  4. Bacenetti J, Fusi A, Negri M, Fiala M, Bocchi S (2016) Organic production systems: sustainability assessment of rice in Italy. Agric Ecosyst Environ 225:33–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bharali A, Baruah KK, Gogoi N (2017) Methane emission from irrigated rice ecosystem: relationship with carbon fixation, partitioning and soil carbon storage. Paddy Water Environ 15:221–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boateng KK, Obeng GY, Mensah E (2017) Rice cultivation and greenhouse gas emissions: a review and conceptual framework with reference to Ghana. Agriculture 7, 7Google Scholar
  7. Bouman BAM, Humphreys E, Tuong TP, Barker R (2007) Rice and water. Adv Agron 92:187–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bouwman AF, Lee DS, Asman WAH, Dentener FJ, Van Der Hoek KW, Olivier JGJ (1997) A global high-resolution emission inventory for ammonia. Global Biochem Cycles 11:561–587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brentrup F, Küsters J, Lammel J, Kuhlmann H (2000) Methods to estimate on-field nitrogen emissions from crop production as an input to LCA studies in the agricultural sector. Int J Life Cycle Assess 5:349–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brentrup F, Küsters J, Kuhlmann H, Lammel J (2004a) Environmental impact assessment of agricultural production systems using the life cycle assessment methodology: I. Theoretical concept of a LCA method tailored to crop production. Eur J Agron 20:247–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brentrup F, Küsters J, Lammel J, Barraclough P, Kuhlmann H (2004b) Environmental impact assessment of agricultural production systems using the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology II. The application to N fertilizer use in winter wheat production systems. Eur J Agron 20:265–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cassman K, Peng S, Olk D, Ladha J, Reichardt W, Dobermann A, Singh U (1998) Opportunities for increased nitrogen-use efficiency from improved resource management in irrigated rice systems. Field Crops Res 56:7–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Charles R, Jolliet O, Gaillard G, Pellet D (2006) Environmental analysis of intensity level in wheat crop production using life cycle assessment. Agric Ecosyst Environ 113:216–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conry MJ (1995) Comparisons of early, normal and late sowing at three rates of nitrogen on the yield, grain nitrogen and screenings content of Blenheim spring malting barley in Ireland. J Agric Sci 125:183–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. CPM (2007) SPINE@CPM database. Competence center in environmental assessment of product and material systems (CPM). Chalmers University of Technology, GothenburgGoogle Scholar
  16. Dehghani H (2007) Guide to air quality, principles of meteorology and air pollution. Publications of Ghashie, Tehran (in Persian)Google Scholar
  17. Dobermann A, Witt C, Abdulrachman S, Gines H, Nagarajan R, Son T, Tan P, Wang G, Chien N, Thoa V, Phung C, Stalin P, Muthukrishnan P, Ravi V, Babu M, Simbahan G, Adviento M (2003) Soil fertility and indigenous nutrient supply in irrigated rice domains of Asia. Agron J 95:913–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dorneanu M (2017) Intensive farming versus-agriculture environmentally sustainable. Quality - Access to Success 18:195–197Google Scholar
  19. Energy Balance Sheet (2008) Available at (in Persian)
  20. Environdec (2016) Product category classification: UN CPC 011, 014, 017, 019–arable crops, p. 1–26Google Scholar
  21. Fageria NK, Baligar VC (2001) Lowland rice response to nitrogen fertilization. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 32:1405–1429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fageria NK, Baligar VC (2003) Methodology for evaluation of lowland rice genotypes for nitrogen use efficiency. J Plant Nutr 26:1315–1333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fageria NK, Baligar VC, Jones CA (1997) Growth and mineral nutrition of field crops, 2nd edn. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Fallahpour F, Aminghafouri A, Ghalegolab-Behbahani A, Bannayan M (2012) The environmental impact assessment of wheat and barley production by using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. Environ Dev Sustain 14:979–992CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fusi A, Bacenetti J, González-García S, Vercesi A, Bocchi S, Fiala M (2014) Environmental profile of paddy rice cultivation with different straw management. Sci Total Environ 494-495:119–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fusi A, González-García S, Moreira MT, Fiala M, Bacenetti J (2017) Rice fertilised with urban sewage sludge and possible mitigation strategies: an environmental assessment. J Clean Prod 140:914–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gasol CM, Gabarrell X, Anton A, Rigola M, Carrasco J, Ciria P et al (2007) Life cycle assessment of a Brassica carinata bioenergy cropping system in southern Europe. Biomass Bioenergy 31:543–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goebes MD, Strader R, Davidson C (2003) An ammonia emission inventory for fertilizer application in the United States. Atm Environ 37:2539–2550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huo Z-Y, Gu H-Y, Ma Q, Yang X, Li M, Li G-Y, Dai Q-G, Xu K, Wei H-Y, Gao H, Lu Y, Zhang H-C (2012) Differences of nitrogen absorption and utilization in rice varieties with different productivity levels. Acta Agron Sinica 38:2061–2068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Inthapanya P, Sipaseuth Sihavong P, Sihathep V, Chanphengsay M, Fukai S et al (2000) Genotype differences in nutrient uptake and utilization for grain yield production of rainfed lowland rice under fertilized and non-fertilized conditions. Field Crops Res 65:57–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. IPCC (2006) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Hayama, JapanGoogle Scholar
  32. Iriarte A, Rieradevall J, Gabarrell X (2010) Life cycle assessment of sunflower and rapeseed as energy crops under Chilean conditions. J Clean Prod 18:336–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. ISO 14040 (2006) Environmental management – Life Cycle Assessment – Requirements and guidelines. International Organization for StandardizationGoogle Scholar
  34. Jiang Y, Van Groenigen KJ, Huang S, Hungate BA, Van Kessel C, Hu S et al (2017) Higher yields and lower methane emissions with new rice cultivars. Glob Chang Biol 23:4728–4738CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Khanali M, Movahedi M, Yousefi M, Jahangiri S, Khoshnevisan B (2016) Investigating energy balance and carbon footprint in saffron cultivation – a case study in Iran. J Clean Prod 115:162–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Khush G (2005) What it will take to feed 5.0 billion rice consumers in 2030. Plant Mol Biol 59:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Koutroubas SD, Ntanos DA (2003) Genotypic differences for grain yield and nitrogen utilization in Indica and Japonica rice under Mediterranean conditions. Field Crops Res 83:251–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mirhaji H, Khojastehpour M, Abbaspour-Fard MH (2013) Environmental effects of wheat production in Marvdasht region. J Nat Environ 66:223–232Google Scholar
  39. Nemecek T, Elie OH, Dubois D, Gaillard G, Schaller B, Chervet A (2011) Life cycle assessment of Swiss farming systems: II. Extensive and intensive production. Agric Syst 104:233–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nikkhah A, Khojastehpour A, Emadi B, Taheri-Rad AR, Khorramdel S (2015) Environmental impacts of peanut production system using life cycle assessment methodology. J Clean Prod 92:84–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nikkhah A, Emadi B, Soltanali H, Firouzi S, Rosentrater K, Allahyari MS (2016) Integration of life cycle assessment and cobb-Douglas modeling for the environmental assessment of kiwifruit in Iran. J Clean Prod 137:843–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ntanos DA, Koutroubas SD (2002) Dry matter and N accumulation and translocation for Indica and Japonica rice under Mediterranean conditions. Field Crops Res 74:93–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Quanbao Y, Hongcheng Z, Haiyan W, Ying Z, Benfo W, Ke X, Zhongyang H, Qigen D, Ke X (2007) Effects of nitrogen fertilizer on nitrogen use efficiency and yield of rice under different soil conditions. Agric China 1:30–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Renouf MA, Wegener MK, Nielsen LK (2008) An environmental life cycle assessment comparing Australian sugarcane with US corn and UK sugar beet as producers of sugars for fermentation. Biomass Bioenergy 32:1144–1155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Roy P, Shimizu N, Kimura T (2005) Life cycle inventory analysis of rice produced by local processes. J Japanese Soc Agric Machin 67:61–67Google Scholar
  46. Signor D, Cerri CEP (2013) Nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural soils: a review. Pesq Agropec Trop 43:322–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Singh B, Singh Y, Khind CS, Meelu OP (1991) Leaching losses of urea-N applied to permeable soils under lowland rice. Fert Res 28:179–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Singh B, Singh Y, Sekhon GS (1995) Fertilizer-N use efficiency and nitrate pollution of groundwater in developing countries. J Contam Hydrol 20:167–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Snyder CS, Bruulsema TW, Jensen TL, Fixen PE (2009) Review of greenhouse gas emissions from crop production systems and fertilizer management effects. Agric Ecosyst Environ 133:247–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Soltanali H, Emadi B, Rohani A, Khojastehpour M, Nikkhah A (2015) Life cycle assessment modeling of milk production in Iran. Inform Process Agric 2:101–108Google Scholar
  51. Soltani A, Rajabi MH, Zeinali E, Soltani E (2010) Evaluation of environmental impact of crop production using LCA: wheat in Gorgan. Elect J Crop Prod 3:201–218Google Scholar
  52. Taheri-Rad AR, Nikkhah A, Khojastehpour M, Nourozieh S (2015) Assessing GHG emissions, and energy and economic analysis of cotton production in the Golestan province. J Agric Machin 5:428–445Google Scholar
  53. Tzilivakis J, Warner DJ, May M, Lewis KA, Jaggard K (2005) An assessment of the energy inputs and greenhouse gas emissions in sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) production in the UK. Agric Syst 8:101–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van der Hoek KW (1998) Estimating ammonia mission factors in Europe: summary of the work of the UNECE ammonia expert panel. Atm Environ 32:315–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Van der Werf HMG, Turunen L (2008) The environmental impacts of the production of hemp and flax textile yarn. Ind Crop Prod 27:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wang M, Wu W, Liu W, Bao Y (2007) Life cycle assessment of the winter wheat-summer maize production system on the North China plain. Int J Sustain Dev World Ecol 14:400–407CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wu L, Yuan S, Huang L et al (2016) Physiological mechanisms underlying the high-grain yield and high-nitrogen use efficiency of elite rice varieties under a low rate of nitrogen application in China. Front Plant Sci 7:1024Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mandana Tayefeh
    • 1
  • Seyyed Mustafa Sadeghi
    • 1
  • Seyyed Ali Noorhosseini
    • 2
  • Jacopo Bacenetti
    • 3
  • Christos A. Damalas
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Agriculture, Lahijan BranchIslamic Azad UniversityLahijanIran
  2. 2.Young Researchers and Elite Club, Rasht BranchIslamic Azad UniversityRashtIran
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science and PolicyUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  4. 4.Department of Agricultural DevelopmentDemocritus University of ThraceOrestiadaGreece

Personalised recommendations