The effect of renovation of long-term temperate grassland on N2O emissions and N leaching from contrasting soils

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Abstract

Renovation of long-term grassland is associated with a peak in soil organic N mineralisation which, coupled with diminished plant N uptake can lead to large gaseous and leaching N losses. This study reports on the effect of ploughing and subsequent N fertilisation on the N2O emissions and DON/NO3- leaching, and evaluates the impact of ploughing technique on the magnitude and profile of N losses. This study was carried out on isolated grassland lysimeters of three Irish soils representing contrasting drainage properties (well-drained Clonakilty, moderately-drained Elton and poorly-drained Rathangan). Lysimeters were manually ploughed simulating conventional (CT) and minimum tillage (MT) as two treatments. Renovation of grassland increased N2O flux to a maximum of 0.9 kg N2O-N ha-1 from poorly-drained soil over four days after treatment. Although there was no difference between CT and MT in the post-ploughing period, the treatment influenced subsequent N2O after fertiliser applications. Fertilisation remained the major driver of N losses therefore reducing fertilisation rate post-planting to account for N mineralised through grassland renovation could reduce the losses in medium to longer term. Leaching was a significant loss pathway, with the cumulative drainage volume and N leached highly influenced by soil type. Overall, the total N losses (N2O + N leached) were lowest from poorly and moderately draining soil and highest for the well draining soil, reflecting the dominance of leaching on total N losses and the paramount importance of soil properties.

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Krol, D. J., Jones, M. B., Williams, M., Richards, K. G., Bourdin, F., & Lanigan, G. J. (2016). The effect of renovation of long-term temperate grassland on N2O emissions and N leaching from contrasting soils. Science of the Total Environment, 560561, 233–240. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.04.052

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