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Science of The Total Environment
Volume 785, 2021, 147301

Soil N2O emission from organic and conventional cotton farming in Northern Tanzania

Thomas N. Bwanaa,f, Nyambilila A. Amuria, etl.,

Department of Soil and Geological Science, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), P. O. Box 3008, Morogoro, Tanzania


The effort to increase the sustainable supply of food and fibre is challenged by the potential for increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from farming systems with intensified production systems. This study aimed at quantifying soil N2O emissions from smallholder organic and conventional cotton production practices in a semi-arid area, Meatu, Northern Tanzania. Field experiments were conducted to quantify N2O emissions under (i) current practices with organic (3 Mg ha-1 farmyard manure (FYM)) and conventional (30 kg mineral N ha-1) cultivation; (ii) a high input practice with organic (5 Mg ha-1 FYM) and conventional (60 kg mineral N ha-1) cultivation; and (iii) an integrated practice with organic (3 Mg FYM + legume intercropping) and conventional (30 kg N + 3 Mg ha-1 FYM) cultivation. In both organic and conventional farming, control treatments with no fertilizer application were included. The study was performed over two growing seasons, where season 1 was rather wet and season 2 was rather dry. Static chambers were used for in-situ measurement of N2O emission from soil. The current organic and conventional cotton farming practices did not differ (P > 0.05) in cumulative area-scaled and yield-scaled N2O emissions. High input conventional cotton showed higher area scaled N2O emissions than organic cotton during the wetter season, but not during the drier season. The inorganic fertilizer + FYM combination did not differ (P > 0.05) in area- and yield-scaled N2O emissions from conventional practice. Intercropping cotton and legumes did not affect (P > 0.05) N2O emission compared to 3 Mg FYM ha-1. The emission factors for both conventional and organic systems were generally above 1% in the dry season 2, but below 1% in the wetter season 1. The use of organic and inorganic fertilizers at rates up to 60 kg N ha-1, FYM-inorganic fertilizer combination, and cotton-legume intercropping increased yields, while N2O emissions stayed low, in particular with use of mineral fertilizers.

Keywords: Greenhouse gas, Nitrous oxide, Cotton, Fertilizer, Manure, Intercropping.

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