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Modelling impacts of alternative farming management practices on greenhouse gas emissions from a winter wheat-maize rotation system in China

Li, Hu, Qiu, Jianjun, Wang, Ligang, Tang, Huajun, Li, Changsheng, Van Ranst, Eric
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2010 v.135 no.1-2 pp. 24-33
Triticum aestivum, winter wheat, Zea mays, corn, cropping systems, greenhouse gases, gas emissions, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, climatic factors, crop management, simulation models, mathematical models, denitrification, soil microorganisms, soil respiration, biological activity in soil, biodegradation, fertilizer rates, crop residues, agricultural wastes, waste utilization, no-tillage, soil organic carbon, air temperature, nitrogen fertilizers, animal manures, China
Agricultural production plays an important role in affecting atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Field measurements were conducted in Quzhou County, Hebei Province in the North China Plains to quantify carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) emissions from a winter wheat-maize rotation field, a common cropping system across the Chinese agricultural regions. The observed flux data in conjunction with the local climate, soil and management information were utilized to test a process-based model, Denitrification-Decomposition or DNDC, for its applicability for the cropping system. The validated DNDC was then used for predicting impacts of three management alternatives (i.e., no-till, increased crop residue incorporation and reduced fertilizer application rate) on CO₂ and N₂O emissions from the target field. Results from the simulations indicated that (1) CO₂ emissions were significantly affected by temperature, initial SOC, tillage method, and quantity and quality of the organic matter added in the soils; (2) increases in temperature, initial SOC, total fertilizer N input, and manure amendment substantially increased N₂O emissions; and (3) temperature, initial SOC, tillage, and quantity and quality of the organic matter added in the soil all had significant effects on global warming. Finally, five 50-year scenarios were simulated with DNDC to predict their long-term impacts on crop yield, soil C dynamics, nitrate leaching losses, and N₂O emissions. The modelled results suggested that implementation of manure amendment or crop residue incorporation instead of increased fertilizer application rates would more efficiently mitigate GHG emissions from the tested agro-ecosystem. The multi-impacts provided a sound basis for comprehensive assessments on the management alternatives.