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A Global Meta-Analysis on the Impact of Management Practices on Net Global Warming Potential and Greenhouse Gas Intensity from Cropland Soils

Upendra M. Sainju
Plos One 2016 v.11 no.2 pp. e0148527
accounting, carbon dioxide, carbon sequestration, climatic factors, conventional tillage, crop residues, crop rotation, cropland, farms, fertilizer rates, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, meta-analysis, methane, nitrogen fertilizers, nitrous oxide, no-tillage, soil, soil respiration
Management practices, such as tillage, crop rotation, and N fertilization, may affect net global warming potential (GWP) and greenhouse gas intensity (GHGI), but their global impact on cropland soils under different soil and climatic conditions need further evaluation. Available global data from 57 experiments and 225 treatments were evaluated for individual and combined effects of tillage, cropping systems, and N fertilization rates on GWP and GHGI which accounted for CO(2) equivalents from N(2)O and CH(4) emissions with or withoutequivalents from soil C sequestration rate (ΔSOC), farm operations, and N fertilization. The GWP and GHGI were 66 to 71% lower with no-till than conventional till and 168 to 215% lower with perennial than annual cropping systems, but 41 to 46% greater with crop rotation than monocroppping. With no-till vs. conventional till, GWP and GHGI were 2.6- to 7.4-fold lower when partial than full accounting of all sources and sinks of greenhouse gases (GHGs) were considered. With 100 kg N ha(-1) , GWP and GHGI were 3.2 to 11.4 times greater with partial than full accounting. Both GWP and GHGI increased curvilinearly with increased N fertilization rate. Net GWP and GHGI were 70 to 87% lower in the improved combined management that included no-till, crop rotation/perennial crop, and reduced N rate than the traditional combined management that included conventional till, monocop- ping/annual crop, and recommended N rate. An alternative soil respiration method, which replaces ΔSOC by soil respiration and crop residue returned to soil in the previous year, similarly reduced GWP and GHGI by 133 to 158% in the improved vs. the traditional combined management. Changes in GWP and GHGI due to improved vs. traditional management varied with the duration of the experiment and inclusion of soil and climatic factors in multiple linear regressions improved their relationships. Improved management practices reduced GWP and GHGI compared with traditional management practices and combined management practices were even more effective than individual management practices in reducing net GHG emissions from cropland soils. Partial accounting overestimated GWP and GHGI values as sinks or sources of net GHGs compared with full accounting when evaluating the effect of management practices.