Interannual variation in nitrous oxide emissions from perennial ryegrass/white clover grassland used for dairy production

Authors

  • William Burchill,

    Corresponding author
    1. Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland
    2. Department of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
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  • Dejun Li,

    1. Huanjiang Observation and Research Station for Karst Ecosystems, Key Laboratory of Agro-ecological Processes in Subtropical Region, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changsha, Hunan, China
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  • Gary J. Lanigan,

    1. Johnstown Castle Environment Research Centre, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford, Ireland
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  • Micheal Williams,

    1. Department of Botany, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
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  • James Humphreys

    1. Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland
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Abstract

Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions are subject to intra- and interannual variation due to changes in weather and management. This creates significant uncertainties when quantifying estimates of annual N2O emissions from grazed grasslands. Despite these uncertainties, the majority of studies are short-term in nature (<1 year) and as a consequence, there is a lack of data on interannual variation in N2O emissions. The objectives of this study were to (i) quantify annual N2O emissions and (ii) assess the causes of interannual variation in emissions from grazed perennial ryegrass/white clover grassland. Nitrous oxide emissions were measured from fertilized and grazed perennial ryegrass/white clover grassland (WC) and from perennial ryegrass plots that were not grazed and did not receive N input (GB), over 4 years from 2008 to 2012 in Ireland (52°51′N, 08°21′W). The annual N2O-N emissions (kg ha−1; mean ± SE) ranged from 4.4 ± 0.2 to 34.4 ± 5.5 from WC and from 1.7 ± 0.8 to 6.3 ± 1.2 from GB. Interannual variation in N2O emissions was attributed to differences in annual rainfall, monthly (December) soil temperatures and variation in N input. Such substantial interannual variation in N2O emissions highlights the need for long-term studies of emissions from managed pastoral systems.

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