Articles | Volume 13, issue 17
Research article
09 Sep 2016
Research article |  | 09 Sep 2016

Long-term nutrient fertilization and the carbon balance of permanent grassland: any evidence for sustainable intensification?

Dario A. Fornara, Elizabeth-Anne Wasson, Peter Christie, and Catherine J. Watson

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Cited articles

Alexandratos, N. and Bruinsma, J.: World agriculture towards 2030/2050: the 2012 revision, ESA Working paper No. 12-03, Rome, FAO, 2012.
Angers, D., Chantigny, M., MacDonald, J., Rochette, P., and Côté, D.: Differential retention of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in grassland soil profiles with long-term manure application, Nutr. Cycl. Agroecosyst., 86, 225–229, 2010.
Aubry, A., Yan, T., Morrison, S. J., and Ferris, C. P.: The development of an online calculator for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from Northern Ireland dairy farms, and an examination of emissions from a number of farms, Industry Report from Research Challenge Fund Project 03/2010, 2013.
Bellamy, P. H., Loveland, P. J., Bradley, R. I., Lark, R. M., and Kirk, G. J. D.: Carbon losses from all soils across England and Wales 1978–2003, Nature 437, 245–248, 2005.
Cenini, V. L., Fornara, D. A., McMullan, G., Ternan, N., Lajtha, K., and Crawley, M. J.: Chronic nitrogen fertilization and carbon sequestration in grassland soils: evidence of a microbial enzyme link, Biogeochemistry 126, 301–313, 2015.
Short summary
This study demonstrates that intensively managed agricultural grasslands can sequester significant amounts of carbon in soils, especially under long-term applications of cattle slurries. There is also evidence that soil carbon sequestration can contribute to offset between 9 % and 25 % of total greenhouse gas emissions associated with the management of permanent grassland. However, to make livestock-based grassland systems more sustainable, further carbon-gain efficiencies are required.
Final-revised paper