Nitrogen management and methane emissions in direct-seeded rice systems

Cameron M. Pittelkow, Yacov Assa, Martin Burger, Randall G. Mutters, Chris A. Greer, Luis A. Espino, James E. Hill, William R. Horwath, Chris van Kessel, Bruce A. Linquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rice (Oryza sativa L.) establishment systems based on resource-conserving production practices are gaining popularity globally. To investigate the potential for improved N management and mitigation of methane (CH4) emissions, field experiments were conducted in California on three crop establishment systems: water-seeded (WS) conventional, WS stale seedbed, and drill-seeded (DS) stale seedbed. Fertilizer nitrogen recovery efficiency (NRE) and rice yield as affected by N rate, source, and application timing were evaluated for 2 yr in each system. Methane emissions were monitored over a full annual rice production cycle (growing season plus fallow period). Results indicated that neither split N applications nor ammonium sulfate increased yields or NRE compared with a single application of urea, regardless of system. However, the economic optimum N rate increased by approximately 30 kg N ha-1 in WS stale seedbed compared with the conventional system. Since NRE generally remained similar across N treatments that maximized yields, applying the appropriate N rate as a single dose before the permanent flood would satisfy both agronomic and environmental goals of N management within each system. Both WS systems resulted in similar growing season CH4 emissions. However, the DS system reduced CH4 emissions by 47% compared with the conventional WS system, possibly due to a decreased period of anaerobic soil conditions. this study highlights the importance of assessing benefits as well as tradeoffs when evaluating opportunities for increasing the sustainability of direct-seeded establishment systems with respect to N management and CH4 emissions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-980
Number of pages13
JournalAgronomy Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 23 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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