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Effect of management and weather variations on the greenhouse gas budget of two grasslands during a 10-year experiment

Ammann, Christof, Neftel, Albrecht, Jocher, Markus, Fuhrer, Jürg, Leifeld, Jens
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2020 v.292 pp. 106814
carbon, carbon dioxide, data collection, ecosystems, emissions factor, field experimentation, global carbon budget, grasslands, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, mineralization, nitrous oxide, plant residues, soil organic matter, weather, Switzerland
While many studies have measured the CO₂ and N₂O exchange of grassland ecosystems and analysed the influence of relevant drivers, only few reported the entire carbon budget over multiple years, which is most relevant for the net greenhouse gas (GHG) source or sink effect. When analysing eddy-covariance-based flux measurements for management and weather related drivers, this is commonly done by comparing either different measurement years at one site or data from different sites distributed regionally or globally. However this procedure makes it usually difficult to clearly attribute observed differences in the carbon exchange to management effects or meteorological drivers.In this study we present results of the carbon and GHG budget of a 10-year paired grassland field experiment in Switzerland comparing intensive and extensive management. We focus on the inter-annual variability of the entire 10-year dataset and especially on the effect of a renovation activity in the intensive field after seven years. By comparing the results of the paired plots, we attempted to disentangle the effects of management including renovation from the effect of seasonal weather conditions on the carbon and greenhouse gas budget. The annual carbon budgets of the two paired fields showed clear systematic differences attributable to the different management. The inter-annual variation (IAV) of the carbon budget was determined as residuals from linear trends. Due to the high correlation of the IAV between the two parallel fields, it was assigned mainly to variations in seasonal weather conditions. The total range of weather attributed variations of annual NECB values was similar in magnitude to the systematic management induced difference between the two fields (100–200 gC m⁻² yr⁻¹). In contrast to previous studies on grassland renovation, a large net carbon loss and enhanced N₂O emission over 2–3 years was observed here. The excess N₂O emission after renovation could be well explained by the IPCC default emission factor approach when considering the additional N input by plant residues and the net soil organic matter mineralisation. Concerning the total GHG budget effect the cumulated GHG uptake by the INT field in the first six years of the experiment was more than compensated by the release in the three post-renovation years.