Study finds that some tropical grasses provide nutritious animal feed and improved nitrogen use efficiency


Increasing land area under grasses that inhibit nitrification will improve farm productivity and decrease nitrous oxide emissions, among other benefits.

Emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, have been increasing since industrialization. Livestock excreta accounts for 10% of nitrous oxide emissions from soils, largely through bovine urine because its high nitrogen concentration generally exceeds plant uptake rates. Soil Biology and Biochemistry

In multi-year trials, scientists observed that exudates from the roots of some plants inhibit the activity of soil nitrifiers (a process known as biological nitrification inhibition – BNI). Therefore, these plants slow down soil nitrogen transformation processes – increasing fertility and reducing emissions of nitrous oxide. But would BNI work on these concentrated urine patches?

In a 2017 publication in Soil Biology & Biochemistryresearchers shared results from a short-term experiment to determine the initial responses of soil nitrifiers to bovine urine patches and their respective feedbacks on soil nitrous oxide emission under two different Brachiaria cultivars that have been shown to have high BNI capacity. They found that  tropical forages with high BNI capacity indeed mitigatied nitrous oxide emissions from bovine urine patches in pasture soils.

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