Subsurface fertilization boosts crop yields and lowers greenhouse gas emissions: A global meta-analysis

Mohammad Saiful Islam Bhuiyan, Azizur Rahman, Irakli Loladze, Suvendu Das, Pil Joo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The subsurface application (SA) of nitrogenous fertilizers is a potential solution to mitigate climate change and improve food security. However, the impacts of SA technology on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and agronomic yield are usually evaluated separately and their results are inconsistent. To address this gap, we conducted a meta-analysis synthesizing 40 peer-reviewed studies on the effects of SA technology on GHG and ammonia (NH 3) emissions, nitrogen uptake (NU), crop yield, and soil residual NO 3-N in rice paddies and upland cropping system. Compared to the surface application of N, SA technology significantly increased rice yields by 32 % and crop yield in upland systems by 62 %. The largest SA-induced increases in crop yield were found at low N input rates (<100 kg Nha −1) in rice paddies and medium N input rates (100–200 kg Nha −1) in upland systems, suggesting that soil moisture is a key factor determining the efficiency of SA technology. SA treatments increased yields by more at reduced fertilizer rates (~30 % less N), a shallow depth (<10 cm), and with urea in both cropping systems than at the full (recommended) N rate, a deeper depth (10–20 cm), and with ammonical fertilizer. SA treatments significantly increased NU in rice paddies (34 %) and upland systems (18 %), and NO 3-N (40 %) in paddyland; however, NO 3-N decreased (28 %) in upland conditions. Ammonia mitigation was greater in paddyland than in upland conditions. SA technology decreased the carbon footprint (CF) in paddyland by 29 % and upland systems by 36 %, and overall by 33 %. Compared with broadcasting, SA significantly reduced CH 4 emissions by 16 %, N 2O emissions by 30 %, and global warming potential (GWP) by 10 % in paddy cultivation. Given SA increased grain yield and NU while reducing NH 3, CF, and GWP, this practice provides dual benefits – mitigating climate change and ensuring food security.

Original languageEnglish
Article number162712
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2023


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