The potential of organic fertilizers and water management to reduce N2O emissions in Mediterranean climate cropping systems. A review


Downloads per month over past year




Downloads per month over past year

Aguilera, Eduardo and Lassaletta Coto, Luis and Sanz-Cobena, Alberto and Garnier, J. and Vallejo, Antonio (2012) The potential of organic fertilizers and water management to reduce N2O emissions in Mediterranean climate cropping systems. A review. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 164 . pp. 32-52. ISSN 0167-8809

[thumbnail of Lassaletta-DBEE-The-potential-of-organic-fertilizers.pdf] PDF
Restringido a Repository staff only


Official URL:


Environmental problems related to the use of synthetic fertilizers and to organic waste management have led to increased interest in the use of organic materials as an alternative source of nutrients for crops, but this is also associated with N2O emissions. There has been an increasing amount of research into the effects of using different types of fertilization on N2O emissions under Mediterranean climatic conditions, but the findings have sometimes been rather contradictory. Available information also suggests that water management could exert a high influence on N2O emissions. In this context, we have reviewed the current scientific knowledge, including an analysis of the effect of fertilizer type and water management on direct N2O emissions.

A meta-analysis of compliant reviewed experiments revealed significantly lower N2O emissions for organic as opposed to synthetic fertilizers (23% reduction). When organic materials were segregated in solid and liquid, only solid organic fertilizer emissions were significantly lower than those of synthetic fertilizers (28% reduction in cumulative emissions). The EF is similar to the IPCC factor in conventionally irrigated systems (0.98% N2O-N N applied−1), but one order of magnitude lower in rainfed systems (0.08%). Drip irrigation produces intermediate emission levels (0.66%). Differences are driven by Mediterranean agro-climatic characteristics, which include low soil organic matter (SOM) content and a distinctive rainfall and temperature pattern. Interactions between environmental and management factors and the microbial processes involved in N2O emissions are discussed in detail.

Indirect emissions have not been fully accounted for, but when organic fertilizers are applied at similar N rates to synthetic fertilizers, they generally make smaller contributions to the leached NO3− pool. The most promising practices for reducing N2O through organic fertilization include: (i) minimizing water applications; (ii) minimizing bare soil; (iii) improving waste management; and (iv) tightening N cycling through N immobilization. The mitigation potential may be limited by: (i) residual effect; (ii) the long-term effects of fertilizers on SOM; (iii) lower yield-scaled performance; and (iv) total N availability from organic sources. Knowledge gaps identified in the review included: (i) insufficient sampling periods; (ii) high background emissions; (iii) the need to provide N2O EF and yield-scaled EF; (iv) the need for more research on specific cropping systems; and (v) the need for full GHG balances.

In conclusion, the available information suggests a potential of organic fertilizers and water-saving practices to mitigate N2O emissions under Mediterranean climatic conditions, although further research is needed before it can be regarded as fully proven, understood and developed.

Information about N2O emissions from Mediterranean crops was analyzed.

Direct N2O fluxes are generally lower for organic than for synthetic fertilizers.

Irrigation highly increased emissions, but the increase was lower with drip irrigation.

The most promising practices, constraints and research gaps have been summarized.

Further research is needed to fully understand and develop N2O mitigation potential.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:nitrous oxide, mediterranean cropping systems, synthetic fertilizer, organic fertilizer, irrigated crops, rainfed crops
Subjects:Medical sciences > Biology > Ecology
ID Code:62376
Deposited On:01 Oct 2020 14:00
Last Modified:02 Oct 2020 06:54

Origin of downloads

Repository Staff Only: item control page