Long-term effects of cropping system on N2O emission potential

Søren O. Petersen, Per Ambus, Lars Elsgaard, Per Schjønning, Jørgen E. Olesen

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The potential for N2O emissions outside the main growing season may be influenced by long-term effects of cropping system. This was investigated by collecting intact soil cores (100 cm3, 0-4 cm depth) under winter wheat in three organic cropping systems and a conventional reference within a long-term crop rotation experiment. Average annual inputs of C in crop residues and manure ranged from 1.7 to 3.3 Mg ha-1. A simulated freeze-thaw cycle resulted in a flush of CO2 during the first 48 h, which could be mainly from microbial sources. Other samples were adjusted to approximately –10, -30 or –100 hPa and amended with excess 15NO3- prior to freezing and thawing. Denitrification was the main source of N2O during a 72-h incubation at 22 °C, as judged from N2O and total 15N evolution. Although the input of C in the conventionally managed cropping system was significantly less than in the organic cropping systems, it showed higher N2O evolution at all three matric potentials. Estimates of relative gas diffusivity (DP/D0) in soil from the four cropping systems indicated that C input affected soil aeration. Soil from the two cropping systems with highest C input showed N2O evolution at DP/D0 in excess of 0.02, which is normally considered a threshold for development of anaerobic sites in the soil, presumably because the oxygen demand was also high. The study shows that cropping system affects both soil gas diffusivity and C availability, and that both characteristics significantly influence the N2O emission potential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSoil Biology & Biochemistry
Pages (from-to)706-712
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Freezeethaw cycle
  • Soil organic matter
  • 15N
  • Gas diffusivity
  • Denitrification


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