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Emission rates of N2O and CO2 from soils with different organic matter content from three long-term fertilization experiments - a laboratory study


Biol. Fertil. Soils 47:483-494 (2011).


Abstract Increasing organic matter stocks in soils reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but they may also promote emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) by providing substrates for nitrification and denitrification and by increasing microbial O2 consumption. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of fertilization history, which had resulted in different soil organic matter stocks on (1) the emission rates of N2OandCO2 at a constant soil moisture content of 60% water-holding capacity, (2) the short-term fluxes of N2OandCO2 following the application of different fertilizers (KNO3 vs. farmyard manure from cattle) and (3) the response to a simulated heavy rainfall event, which increased soil moisture to field capacity. Soil samples from different treatments of three long-term fertilization experiments in Germany (Methau, Spröda and Bad Lauchstädt) were incubated in a laboratory experiment with continuous determination of N2OandCO2 emissions and a monitoring of soil mineral N. The long-term fertilization treatments included application of mineral N (Methau and Spröda), farmyard manure + mineral N (Methau and Spröda), farmyard manure deposition in excess (Bad Lauchstädt) and nil fertilization (Bad Lauchstädt). Long-term addition of farmyard manure increased the soil organic C (SOC) content by 55% at Methau (silt loam), by 17% at Spröda (sandy loam) and by 88% at Bad Lauchstädt (silt loam; extreme treatment which does not represent common agricultural management). Increased soil organic matter stocks induced by longterm application of farmyard manure at Methau and Spröda resulted in slightly increased N2Oemissions at a soil moisture content of 60% water-holding capacity. However, the effect of fertilization history and SOC content on N2Oemissions was small compared to the short-term effects induced by the current fertilizer application. At Bad Lauchstädt, high N2Oemissions from the treatment without fertilization for 25 years indicate the importance of a sustainable soil organic matter management to maintain soil structure and soil aeration. Emissions of N2Ofollowing the application of nitrate and farmyard manure differed because of their specific effects on soil nitrate availability and microbial oxygen consumption. At a soil moisture content of 60% waterholding
capacity, fertilizer-induced emissions were higher for farmyard manure than for nitrate. At field capacity, nitrate application induced the highest emissions. Our results indicate that feedback mechanisms of soil C sequestration on N2Oemissions have to be considered when discussing options to increase soil C stocks.