A potentially underestimated source of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in agriculture

(1) Theoretical Lyceum Waldorf, Chisinau, The Republic of Moldova, (2) Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, Chisinau, The Republic of Moldova

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Agriculture is a well-known global contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions responsible for the global rise in temperatures. A substantial amount of agricultural GHG emissions is linked to the application of synthetic fertilizers. Studies in this field have addressed the related microbiological processes, leaving the purely chemical ones out of focus. Our hypothesis was that some common mineral fertilizers produce environmentally significant GHG effluxes chemically because of their composition, large quantities of application, and specific conditions frequently present in soil. Therefore, the purpose of our work was to test whether Nitroammofoska (a commercial nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizer) and other common and readily available mineral fertilizers produce considerable CO2 effluxes from chemical reactions in water with and without participation of CaCO3. Based on our results, as much as 20.41% of all CO2 annually emitted from all activities on land could be produced by (NH4)2SO4 alone, provided all mineral nitrogen fertilizers are used as a mixture of (NH4)2SO4 and K2HPO4, and in the presence of CaCO3. The results also suggested a possibility of considerable economic loss due to intense NH3 volatilization from ammonium-containing mineral fertilizers, occurring when enough carbonate and/or bicarbonate ions are available.

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