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Greenhouse gas emissions following land application of pulp and paper mill sludge on a clay loam soil

Faubert, P., Lemay-Bélisle, C., Bertrand, N., Bouchard, S., Chantigny, M.H., Durocher, S., Paré, M.C., Rochette, P., Tremblay, P., Ziadi, N., Villeneuve, C. (2017). Greenhouse gas emissions following land application of pulp and paper mill sludge on a clay loam soil, 250 102-112. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2017.07.040

Abstract

© 2017 Pulp and paper mill sludge (PPMS) is applied on agricultural soils as an organic fertilizer. Although it is well accepted that land application of PPMS has benefits for soils and crops, information on PPMS-induced soil N2O emissions is still limited. We assessed the effect of substituting mineral N fertilizer for PPMS on soil N2O emissions after a single application at planting on a clay loam cropped to wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) over two snow-free seasons in eastern Canada. Fertilization treatments consisted of 0, 25, 50, 75, and 100% of crop N requirements derived from N supplied by PPMS, the remaining N being supplied as urea-N. Soil CO2 and CH4 emissions were also measured and not affected by the fertilizer addition; a slight CH4 oxidation occurred. Area-based N2O emissions from PPMS fertilization (4.4 to 12.1 kg N2O-N ha−1) were similar or higher than from urea alone (3.4 and 6.2 kg N2O-N ha−1). Although crop yields were not affected by the type of fertilizer, yield-based N2O emissions, N uptake efficiency and N surplus (applied N minus aboveground N uptake in crop biomass) indicated that N availability from the mineral fertilizer was higher than from PPMS for the wheat crop. However, treatments with PPMS had fertilizer-induced N2O emission factors (FIEF, applied N lost as N2O-N; 0.8 to 3.1%) similar to urea alone (−0.3 and 4.5%). Although substituting urea-N with PPMS in agricultural fields might reduce N2O emissions under moderate soil moisture conditions, PPMS land application produced greater N2O emissions under high soil moisture conditions. Further research on a variety of agricultural practices is needed before concluding that including PPMS in the fertilization plan could result in a global GHG abatement as compared to mineral fertilizers under the cool climate of eastern Canada.

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