Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Identify Link Between Plant Nitrogen Uptake and Greenhouse Gas Reductions

July 19, 2017

Corn management processes contributing to optimal levels of nitrogen uptake could lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study conducted by Purdue University scientists. The results are published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.

"Previous internationally accepted estimates were that for every pound of nitrogen fertilizer applied in grain crop production, there is a loss of 1 percent as nitrous oxide to the atmosphere," said Purdue professor Tony Vyn. "We found that when it comes to North American corn production, nitrous oxide emissions are more of a function of two things, nitrogen balance and nitrogen recovery efficiency, than simply nitrogen rate alone. Moderate N rates cause less concern for nitrous oxide emissions, but when high rates of nitrogen fertilizer exceed optimal plant nitrogen requirements, then we will get higher nitrous oxide emissions."

He said that the findings of the study should be a guide in conducting agronomic research on identifying the impact of agricultural production on nitrous oxide emissions. "Our models indicate that a careful selection of appropriate nitrogen rate applied at the right time can both increase nitrogen recovery efficiency, lower the nitrogen balance left in the field, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions," Vyn said. "If you're going to measure greenhouse gas emissions, you must also measure the whole plant nitrogen uptake for each nitrogen fertilizer management program being tested."

Read more information about the study from Purdue University.