Nitrogen dynamics under elevated carbon dioxide

How will high carbon dioxide concentrations affect the cycling of nitrogen in crop production systems.


It is known that N demand is lower under eCO2 and this reduces the rate at which N is cycled through the soil/plant system. The low availability of N progressively suppresses the positive response of the biomass of species to elevated CO2 (Reich et al. , 2006), but generally stimulates crop biomass to a greater extent (Ma et al. , 2007). In comparison, elevated CO2 concentration increases symbiotic and non-symbiotic N2 fixation, resulting in more N being gained and less lost. Read more

Year of initiation:2009
Year of completion:2012


04 Sep 2013

Elevated Carbon Dioxide and Wheat Nutrition
Papers presented at the 2013 IPNC, Turkey and the ANZ Fertilizer Industry Conference

01 Sep 2012

Nitrogen management for wheat in a variable climate
R Norton

01 Sep 2012

How will climate change affect wheat nutrition in Australian cropping systems
SK Lam, D Chen, R Armstrong and R Norton

Interpretive Summary

By 2070, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is expected to double that observed in 1950. In this higher CO2 world, the sustainability of global crop production may be in jeopardy unless current N management strategies are changed. Many studies have tried to quantify the effect of increased CO2 on plant production and N utilization, but the results have generally been inconclusive and contradictory.

Elevated atmospheric CO2 affects growth and yield which then affect processes controlling the supply and losses of N to sustain these increases. This research was undertaken to measure the effects of elevated CO2 on crop N demand, fertilizer N recovery, symbiotic N2 fixation, residual N availability, and greenhouse gas emissions from cropping systems in southern Australia (Horsham) and northern China using free-air CO2 enrichment (FACE) facilities and glasshouse chambers.

The effect of elevated carbon dioxide concentration ( CO2 ) on greenhouse gas emissions from semi-arid cropping systems is poorly understood. Two studies were reported during 2010, one from the Australian Grains FACE experiment, and the other from the CAAS China mini-FACE project.

The Australian Grains Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (AGFACE) facility was established to compare wheat growth, yield, and development under ambient atmospheric carbon dioxide (a CO2 ~380 ppm) and elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (e CO2 ~550 ppm). Experiments on fertilizer N recovery, straw decomposition, and greenhouse gas production have been undertaken to estimate how e CO2 and a changing climate could affect crop production systems.

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Updates & Reports


2013 Annual Report


Project Description

Micro plots for 15N treatments

Project Leader

Deli Chen, University of Melbourne
Rob Norton, International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)

Project Cooperators

Shukee Lam, The University of Melbourne
Roger Armstrong, Victorian Department of Primary Industry.

IPNI Staff

R. M. Norton


Oceania \ Australia and New Zealand \ AUS \ Victoria \ Wimmera


4r rate, 4r source, greenhouse gases, nutrient losses, nutrient removal and cycling, yield components


Nitrogen (N)