A new study by the scientists at the University of California, Davis has posited that the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide and the atmospheric pollutant nitric oxide could be reduced by changing farming practices.
The purpose of the study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was to use different microbial processes to comprehend the sources of nitric oxide and nitrous oxide.
Past studies posited that nitrous oxide production through ammonia oxidation happens when oxygen is plentiful in the soil. But, by manipulating oxygen levels using isotopic analysis, scientists discovered that when oxygen was limited, the volume of nitrous oxide increased.
The study results demonstrate that land management decisions such as choice of fertilizer can greatly affect the amount of nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere. Scientists also stressed that fertilizer applications of urea must be eliminated altogether in soils where oxygen is limited in order to reduce nitrous oxide emissions.
Conversely, soil aeration reduces soil compaction and uses organic matter to enhance soil structure, and this might decrease nitrous oxide emissions.
William Horwatch, the UC Davis professor of soil biogeochemistry who led the study, believes the results will ultimately lead the public to make better, more informed fertilizer choices based on different soil processes.