Soil N2O and CO2 emissions from cotton in Australia under varying irrigation management
Scheer, Clemens, Grace, Peter R., Rowlings, David W., & Payero, Jose (2013) Soil N2O and CO2 emissions from cotton in Australia under varying irrigation management. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 95(1), pp. 43-56.
Irrigation is known to stimulate soil microbial carbon and nitrogen turnover and potentially the emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). We conducted a study to evaluate the effect of three different irrigation intensities on soil N2O and CO2 fluxes and to determine if irrigation management can be used to mitigate N2O emissions from irrigated cotton on black vertisols in South-Eastern Queensland, Australia. Fluxes were measured over the entire 2009/2010 cotton growing season with a fully automated chamber system that measured emissions on a sub-daily basis. Irrigation intensity had a significant effect on CO2 emission. More frequent irrigation stimulated soil respiration and seasonal CO2 fluxes ranged from 2.7 to 4.1 Mg-C ha−1 for the treatments with the lowest and highest irrigation frequency, respectively. N2O emission happened episodic with highest emissions when heavy rainfall or irrigation coincided with elevated soil mineral N levels and seasonal emissions ranged from 0.80 to 1.07 kg N2O-N ha−1 for the different treatments. Emission factors (EF = proportion of N fertilizer emitted as N2O) over the cotton cropping season, uncorrected for background emissions, ranged from 0.40 to 0.53 % of total N applied for the different treatments. There was no significant effect of the different irrigation treatments on soil N2O fluxes because highest emission happened in all treatments following heavy rainfall caused by a series of summer thunderstorms which overrode the effect of the irrigation treatment. However, higher irrigation intensity increased the cotton yield and therefore reduced the N2O intensity (N2O emission per lint yield) of this cropping system. Our data suggest that there is only limited scope to reduce absolute N2O emissions by different irrigation intensities in irrigated cotton systems with summer dominated rainfall. However, the significant impact of the irrigation treatments on the N2O intensity clearly shows that irrigation can easily be used to optimize the N2O intensity of such a system.
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