Nitrogen Cycling and N2O Emissions in Brachiaria-Based Grass-Alone Pastures and Silvopastoral Systems in a Grazing Trial in Colombia

Daniel M. Villegas, Mauricio Sotelo, Catalina Trujillo, Alejandro Ruden, Juan Andres Cardoso, Jon Moorby, Nicholas Jonsson, Brian Barrett, Julian Chara, Enrique Murgueitio, Jacobo Arango

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Silvopastoral systems provide a number of environmental and productive benefits compared to grass-alone pastures in terms of i) increased forage biomass offer and quality, ii) nutrient cycling, iii) biodiversity, iv) cash flow, among other ecosystem services. With the aim of evaluating the nitrogen (N) cycling differences in grass-alone pastures and silvopastoral systems we established a field trial in the CIAT campus in Palmira, Colombia consisting of two grassonly, and two silvopastoral treatments: i) Brachiaria hybrid cv. Cayman, ii) Brachiaria hybrid cv. Cayman + Leucaena diversifolia, iii) B. brizantha cv. Toledo, and iv) B. brizantha cv. Toledo + L. diversifolia. Over a six months period we evaluated every 50-55 days the aboveground biomass production after standardization of the Brachiaria grass, the L. diversifolia foliage, forbs, and plant litter. The dry matter production per treatment for each botanical fraction, and nutrition quality parameters of the grasses and the legume were determined. The isotopic 13C and 15N natural abundance of all samples were measured to estimate N fixation by the legume and transfer to the associated grass. The soil-borne nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions and inorganic N transformations in the soil were monitored over a period of 50 days after simulation of urine deposition during the rainy season. Soil chemical and physical characterization were performed at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. Our hypothesis is that plant biomass and N concentration in forage is higher in the silvopastoral systems compared to the Brachiaria alone pastures via N fixation by the legumes, and that N2O emissions intensity is lower in the silvopastoral treatments. Currently diverse technologies have been proposed pointing for sustainable livestock production, however, silvopastoral systems stand out among them for the potential of dual benefit increasing livestock productivity while providing ecosystem services, including reduction of the carbon balance of the system.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 05 Jun 2022
Event8th International Greenhouse Gas & Animal Agriculture Conference - University of Florida, Orlando, Florida, United States of America
Duration: 05 Jun 202209 Jun 2022


Conference8th International Greenhouse Gas & Animal Agriculture Conference
Abbreviated titleGGAA 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CityOrlando, Florida
Period05 Jun 202209 Jun 2022
Internet address


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