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Does Brachiaria humidicola and dicyandiamide reduce nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions from cattle urine patches in the subtropics?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-03, 19:51 authored by Priscila Simon, Jeferson Dieckow, Josileia Acordi Zanatta, Bruna Ramalho, Ricardo Henrique Ribeiro, Tony VanDerWeerden, Cecile DeKlein
Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from pasture-based livestock systems represent 34% of Brazil's agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. The forage species Brachiaria humidicola is known for its biological nitrification inhibition (BNI) capacity and N2O emissions reduction ability from urine patches under tropical conditions. However, there is little information about the effect of BNI on N2O emission and ammonia (NH3) volatilisation in the subtropics. This study aimed to: (i) evaluate the potential of Brachiaria humidicola, compared with Panicum maximum (Jacq. cv. Áries; guinea grass), a broadly used grass (with no BNI capacity), to reduce N2O emissions under subtropical conditions; (ii) determine the efficacy of nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) to decrease N2O emissions; and (iii) determine the effect of brachiaria and DCD application on NH3 volatilisation. A field experiment was carried out using a Cambisol, where cattle urine ± DCD was applied to brachiaria and guinea grass. Over the 67-day measurement period, cumulative N2O emissions were 20% lower from urine patches in the brachiaria treatment (1138 mg N m−2, Emission factor = 1.06%) compared to guinea grass (1436 mg N m−2, Emission factor = 1.33%) (P < .10). A greenhouse experiment, using pots with the same treatments as in the field experiment, suggested that this could have been due to lower soil nitrate levels under brachiaria forage compared to guinea grass, indicating that BNI could be a possible mechanism for lower N2O emissions from brachiaria. The DCD application was effective in both forage species, decreasing N2O emissions by 40–50% (P < .10) compared with the urine only treatment. Approximately 25% of the urine applied N was lost via NH3 volatilisation, however the NH3 loss was not affected by forage species or DCD application (P > .10). Overall, the results demonstrated that brachiaria and DCD use are strategies that can reduce N2O emissions from urine patches.


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  • English

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  • No



Journal title

Science of the Total Environment




Simon, P. L., Dieckow, J., Zanatta, J. A., Ramalho, B., Ribeiro, R. H., van der Weerden, T., & de Klein, C. A. M. (2020). Does Brachiaria humidicola and dicyandiamide reduce nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions from cattle urine patches in the subtropics? Science of the Total Environment, 720, 137692. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137692

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