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Organic Wastes Amended with Sorbents Reduce N2O Emissions from Sugarcane Cropping

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Westermann, M., Brackin, R., Robinson, N., Salazar Cajas, M., Buckley, S., Bailey, T., Redding, M. R., Kochanek, J., Hill, J., Guillou, S., Freitas, J. C., Wang, W., Pratt, C., Fujinuma, R. and Schmidt, S. (2021) Organic Wastes Amended with Sorbents Reduce N2O Emissions from Sugarcane Cropping. Environments, 8 (8). ISSN 2076-3298


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.3390/environments8080078


Nutrient-rich organic wastes and soil ameliorants can benefit crop performance and soil health but can also prevent crop nutrient sufficiency or increase greenhouse gas emissions. We hypothesised that nitrogen (N)-rich agricultural waste (poultry litter) amended with sorbents (bentonite clay or biochar) or compost (high C/N ratio) attenuates the concentration of inorganic nitrogen (N) in soil and reduces emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O). We tested this hypothesis with a field experiment conducted on a commercial sugarcane farm, using in vitro incubations. Treatments received 160 kg N ha−1, either from mineral fertiliser or poultry litter, with additional N (2–60 kg N ha−1) supplied by the sorbents and compost. Crop yield was similar in all N treatments, indicating N sufficiency, with the poultry litter + biochar treatment statistically matching the yield of the no-N control. Confirming our hypothesis, mineral N fertiliser resulted in the highest concentrations of soil inorganic N, followed by poultry litter and the amended poultry formulations. Reflecting the soil inorganic N concentrations, the average N2O emission factors ranked as per the following: mineral fertiliser 8.02% > poultry litter 6.77% > poultry litter + compost 6.75% > poultry litter + bentonite 5.5% > poultry litter + biochar 3.4%. All emission factors exceeded the IPCC Tier 1 default for managed soils (1%) and the Australian Government default for sugarcane soil (1.25%). Our findings reinforce concerns that current default emissions factors underestimate N2O emissions. The laboratory incubations broadly matched the field N2O emissions, indicating that in vitro testing is a cost-effective first step to guide the blending of organic wastes in a way that ensures N sufficiency for crops but minimises N losses. We conclude that suitable sorbent-waste formulations that attenuate N release will advance N efficiency and the circular nutrient economy.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Keywords:circular nutrient economy sustainable agriculture poultry litter greenhouse gas nitrous oxide organic fertiliser sorbents compost biochar clay
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Fertilisers
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural structures. Farm buildings
Plant culture > Field crops > Sugar plants
Live Archive:30 Aug 2021 00:47
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:46

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