Here, we present a novel methodology to provide an integrated assessment of the best strategies to abate NH3 from N applications to crops. Using scenario analyses, we assessed the potential of 11 mitigation measures to reduce NH3 volatilization while accounting for their side effects on crop productivity, N use efficiency and N surplus.
Spain as case study
Spain, including its 48 provinces, was selected as a case study as it is the third major producer of agricultural goods in Europe, and also the European country with the highest increase in NH3 emissions from 1990 to 2011. Strategies that involved combining mitigation measures produced the largest NH3 abatement in all cases, with an 80% reduction in some regions. Among the strategies analyzed, only suppression of urea application combined with manure incorporation and incorporation of N synthetic fertilizers other than urea showed a fully beneficial situation: yield-scaled NH3 emissions were reduced by 82%, N surplus was reduced by 9%, NUE was increased by 19% and yield was around 98% that of the reference situation.
This study shows that the adoption of viable measures may provide an opportunity for countries like Spain to meet the international agreements on NH3 mitigation, while maintaining crop yields and increasing NUE.