Fertilizer management practices and greenhouse gas emissions from rice systems: A quantitative review and analysis

Bruce A. Linquist, Maria Arlene Adviento-Borbe, Cameron M. Pittelkow, Chris van Kessel, Kees Jan van Groenigen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Flooded rice systems emit both methane (CH 4) and nitrous oxide (N 2O). Elevated CH 4 emissions in rice systems can lead to a high global warming potential (GWP) relative to other crops, thus strategies to reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions, particularly CH 4, are needed. Altering water, residue (carbon) and fertilizer management practices are commonly suggested as options for mitigating GHG emissions in rice systems. While the effects of water and residue management have been reported on elsewhere, the impact of fertilizer management on GHG emissions has not been reviewed quantitatively. We conducted an exhaustive search of peer-reviewed field studies that compared various side-by-side fertilizer management options. Where sufficient studies were available a meta-analysis was conducted to determine average treatment effects of management practices on both CH 4 and N 2O emissions. Results show that low inorganic fertilizer N rates (averaging 79kgNha -1) increased CH 4 emissions by 18% relative to when no N fertilizer was applied, while high N rates (average of 249kgNha -1) decreased CH 4 emissions by 15%. Replacing urea with ammonium sulfate at the same N rate significantly reduced CH 4 emissions by 40%, but may increase N 2O emissions. Overall, the fertilizer-induced emission factor for all inorganic N sources was 0.22%. Dicyandiamide (DCD), a nitrification inhibitor, led to lower emissions of both CH 4 (-18%) and N 2O (-29%). Limited field data suggest that deep placement of N fertilizer reduces CH 4 emissions but increases N 2O emissions. When compared to inorganic N fertilizers, farmyard manure (FYM) increased CH 4 emissions by 26% and the green manure (GrM) Sesbania by 192%. Neither FYM nor GrM had a significant impact on N 2O emissions when compared to an inorganic N treatment at the same N rate. Sulfate fertilizers reduced CH 4 emissions by 28% and 53% at average rates of 208 and 992kgSha -1, respectively. These findings demonstrate that a variety of fertilizer management practices affect GHG emissions from rice systems. To develop effective GHG mitigation strategies future work is needed to (i) quantify the effects on GWP (accounting for both CH 4 and N 2O emissions), (ii) investigate options for combining mitigation practices (e.g. deep placement of ammonium sulfate), and (iii) determine the economic viability of these practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-21
Number of pages12
JournalField Crops Research
StatePublished - Aug 30 2012


  • Inhibitor
  • Manure
  • Meta-analysis
  • Methane
  • Mitigation
  • Nitrogen
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Rice
  • Sulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science

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  • Cite this

    Linquist, B. A., Adviento-Borbe, M. A., Pittelkow, C. M., van Kessel, C., & van Groenigen, K. J. (2012). Fertilizer management practices and greenhouse gas emissions from rice systems: A quantitative review and analysis. Field Crops Research, 135, 10-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2012.06.007