Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Biogeosciences, 10, 2671–2682, 2013

Special issue: Nitrogen and global change

Biogeosciences, 10, 2671–2682, 2013

Research article 22 Apr 2013

Research article | 22 Apr 2013

Nitrous oxide emissions from European agriculture – an analysis of variability and drivers of emissions from field experiments

R. M. Rees1, J. Augustin2, G. Alberti3, B. C. Ball1, P. Boeckx4, A. Cantarel5, S. Castaldi6, N. Chirinda7, B. Chojnicki8, M. Giebels1, H. Gordon1, B. Grosz9, L. Horvath10, R. Juszczak8, Å. Kasimir Klemedtsson11, L. Klemedtsson12, S. Medinets13, A. Machon9, F. Mapanda14, J. Nyamangara15, J. E. Olesen7, D. S. Reay16, L. Sanchez17, A. Sanz Cobena17, K. A. Smith16, A. Sowerby18, M. Sommer2, J. F. Soussana5, M. Stenberg19, C. F. E. Topp1, O. van Cleemput4, A. Vallejo17, C. A. Watson1, and M. Wuta14 R. M. Rees et al.
  • 1Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH93JG, UK
  • 2ZALF, Eberswalder Straße 84, 15374 Müncheberg, Germany
  • 3Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Udine, 33100 Udine, Italy
  • 4Isotope Bioscience Laboratory, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  • 5INRA, Grassland Ecosystem Research, UREP, Avenue du Brezet, 63039 Clermont-Ferrand, France
  • 6Department of Environmental Science, University of Naples, via Vivaldi 43,81100 Caserta, Italy
  • 7Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Postboks 50, D8830 Tjele, Denmark
  • 8Meteorology Department, Poznan University of Life Sciences, Piatkowska 94, 60-649 Poznan, Poland
  • 9Department of Meteorology, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/a 1117 Budapest, Hungary
  • 10Plant Ecology Research Group of Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany and Ecophysiology, Szent István University, Páter K. utca 1, 2100 Gödöllő, Hungary and Hungarian Meteorological Service, Gilice tér 39, 1181 Budapest, Hungary
  • 11University of Gothenburg, Department of Earth Sciences, 40530 Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 12University of Gothenburg, Department of Plant & Environmental Science, S40530 Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 13Odessa National II Mechnikov University, 65082 Odessa, Ukraine
  • 14University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
  • 15International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Matopos Research Station, P.O. Box 776, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
  • 16University of Edinburgh, School of Geosciences, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK
  • 17Polytechnic University of Madrid, Dpto. Química y Análisis Agrícola, ETSI, Agrónomos, C/Ciudad Universitaria s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain
  • 18Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bangor LL57 2UW, Gwynedd, UK
  • 19Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment, P.O. Box 234, SE-532 23 Skara, Sweden

Abstract. Nitrous oxide emissions from a network of agricultural experiments in Europe were used to explore the relative importance of site and management controls of emissions. At each site, a selection of management interventions were compared within replicated experimental designs in plot-based experiments. Arable experiments were conducted at Beano in Italy, El Encin in Spain, Foulum in Denmark, Logården in Sweden, Maulde in Belgium, Paulinenaue in Germany, and Tulloch in the UK. Grassland experiments were conducted at Crichton, Nafferton and Peaknaze in the UK, Gödöllö in Hungary, Rzecin in Poland, Zarnekow in Germany and Theix in France. Nitrous oxide emissions were measured at each site over a period of at least two years using static chambers. Emissions varied widely between sites and as a result of manipulation treatments. Average site emissions (throughout the study period) varied between 0.04 and 21.21 kg N2O-N ha−1 yr−1, with the largest fluxes and variability associated with the grassland sites. Total nitrogen addition was found to be the single most important determinant of emissions, accounting for 15% of the variance (using linear regression) in the data from the arable sites (p < 0.0001), and 77% in the grassland sites. The annual emissions from arable sites were significantly greater than those that would be predicted by IPCC default emission factors. Variability of N2O emissions within sites that occurred as a result of manipulation treatments was greater than that resulting from site-to-site and year-to-year variation, highlighting the importance of management interventions in contributing to greenhouse gas mitigation.

Final-revised paper