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Effects of organic and mineral fertilizer nitrogen on greenhouse gas emissions and plant-captured carbon under maize cropping in Zimbabwe

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Publication date
Type of Publication:
Articles & Journals
Focus Region:
Sub-Saharan Africa
Focus Topic:
Land / Water / Resource Management
Mapanda, F.; Wuta, M.; Nyamangara, J.; Rees, R.M.

Optimizing a three-way pact comprising crop yields, fertility inputs and greenhouse gases may minimize the contribution of croplands to global warming. Fluxes of N2O, CO2 and CH4 from soil were measured under maize (Zea mays L.) grown using 0, 60 and 120 kg N hm-2 as NH4NO3-N and composted manure-N in three seasons on clay (Chromic luvisol) and sandy loam (Haplic lixisol) soils in Zimbabwe. The fluxes were measured using the static chamber methodology involving gas chromatography for ample air analysis. Over an average of 122 days we estimated emissions of 0.1 to 0.5 kg N2O-N hm?2, 711 to 1574 kg CO2-C hm?2 and?2.6 to 5.8 kg CH4-C hm?2 from six treatments during season II with the highest fluxes. The posed hypothesis that composted manure-N may be better placed as a mitigation option against soil emissions of GHG than mineral fertilizer-N was largely supported by N2O fluxes during the wet period of the year, but with high level of uncertainty. Nitrogen addition might have stimulated both emissions and consumption of CH4 but the sink or source strength depended highly on soil water content. We concluded that the application of mineral-N and manure input may play an important role with reference to global warming provided the season can support substantial crop productivity that may reduce the amount of N2O loss per unit yield. Confidence in fluxes response to agricultural management is still low due to sporadic measurements and limited observations from the southern African region.