Improvement in use efficiency of N fertilizers can potentially better sustain agriculture by reducing N2O emissions from soils, but little is known about its impact on soil CO2 emissions. A study, involving both a field experiment and a laboratory incubation, was conducted in eastern Canada to determine the N fertilization effect on soil CO2 emissions. In laboratory, we incubated nine different types of soil with and without 150 kg N ha-1 as KNO3 or (NH4)2SO4. The N-fertilized soils had lower CO2 emissions compared with the no-N control soils for six of them. Among fertilizer sources, emissions of CO2 were on average 22% lower with KNO3 than with (NH4)2SO4. The field experiment conducted on a clay soil included three sources of N (urea-NH4NO3, CaNH4NO3, and aqua NH3) at 0-200 kg N ha-1 band-incorporated at the six-leaf corn stage. Under field conditions, most CO2 was emitted between N application and grain maturity with cumulative seasonal soil emissions greater in the control (4.9 Mg C ha-1) than in the N treatments (average of 4.0 ± 0.3 Mg C ha-1). Evidence suggested that both heterotrophic and autotrophic respiration seemed affected, whereas the NO3-based source had a more depressing effect on CO2 emissions than did the NH4 source.
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