Meta-analysis of the effect of urease and nitrification inhibitors on crop productivity and nitrogen use efficience

D. Abalos, S.L. Jeffery, A. Sanz-Cobena, G. Guardia, A. Vallejo

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263 Citations (Scopus)


Nitrification and urease inhibitors are proposed as means to reduce nitrogen losses, thereby increasing crop nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). However, their effect on crop yield is variable. A meta-analysis was conducted to evaluate their effectiveness at increasing NUE and crop productivity. Commonly used nitrification inhibitors (dicyandiamide (DCD) and 3,4-dimethylepyrazole phosphate (DMPP)) and the urease inhibitor N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) were selected for analysis as they are generally considered the best available options. Our results show that their use can be recommended in order to increase both crop yields and NUE (grand mean increase of 7.5% and 12.9%, respectively). However, their effectiveness was dependent on the environmental and management factors of the studies evaluated. Larger responses were found in coarse-textured soils, irrigated systems and/or crops receiving high nitrogen fertilizer rates. In alkaline soils (pH = 8), the urease inhibitor NBPT produced the largest effect size. Given that their use represents an additional cost for farmers, understanding the best management practices to maximize their effectiveness is paramount to allow effective comparison with other practices that increase crop productivity and NUE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-144
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • n-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide
  • oxide emissions
  • gaseous emissions
  • 3,4-dimethylpyrazole phosphate
  • ammonia volatilization
  • agricultural soils
  • urine patches
  • nitric-oxide
  • fertilizers
  • yield

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