Assessing the benefits and wider costs of different N fertilisers for grassland agriculture

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Carswell, A. M., Shaw, R., Hunt, J., Sanchez-Rodriguez, A. R., Saunders, K. S., Cotton, J., Hill, P. W., Chadwick, D. R., Jones, D. L. and Misselbrook, T. H. 2018. Assessing the benefits and wider costs of different N fertilisers for grassland agriculture . Archives of Agronomy and Soil Science. 65 (5), pp. 625 - 639.

AuthorsCarswell, A. M., Shaw, R., Hunt, J., Sanchez-Rodriguez, A. R., Saunders, K. S., Cotton, J., Hill, P. W., Chadwick, D. R., Jones, D. L. and Misselbrook, T. H.
Abstract

Fertiliser nitrogen (N) is essential for maintaining agronomic outputs for our growing population. However, the societal, economic and environmental impacts of excess reactive N from fertiliser is rarely assessed. Here the agronomic, economic and environmental efficacy of three N-fertiliser sources, ammonium-nitrate (AN), urea (U), and inhibited-urea (IU; with NPBT) were evaluated at two grassland sites. Dry matter yield and herbage quality was measured at each silage-cut. Additionally, NH3-N and N2O-N losses were measured and used to calculate the effective N source cost and externality costs, which account for associated environmental and societal impacts. We found no effect of different N sources on yield or herbage quality. However, NH3-N emissions were significantly reduced under the IU treatment, by 48-65%. No significant differences in cumulative N2O emissions were observed. Incorporating externality costs increased fertiliser prices by 1.23-2.36, 6.51-16.4, and 3.17-4.17 times the original cost, for AN, U and IU, respectively, transforming U from the cheapest, to the most expensive of the N sources examined. However, with no apparent yield differences between N-fertiliser sources there is no economic incentive for the land-manager to use the more environmentally and socially acceptable option, unless externality costs are incorporated into fertiliser prices at the point of sale.

KeywordsAmmonia; Fertilizer management; Greenhouse gas emissions; Urease inhibitor; Nitrous oxide
Year of Publication2018
JournalArchives of Agronomy and Soil Science
Journal citation65 (5), pp. 625 - 639
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/03650340.2018.1519251
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBBSRC Newton funding
Funder project or codeUK - China Virtual Joint Centre for Improved Nitrogen Agronomy (CINAG)
Publisher's version
Copyright license
CC BY
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright license
CC BY
Output statusE-publication ahead of print
Publication dates
Online22 Sep 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted29 Aug 2018
ISSN0365-0340
PublisherTaylor & Francis

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