Effects of nitrogen input and grazing on methane fluxes of extensively and intensively managed grasslands in the Netherlands

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Abstract

Abstract Generally, grasslands are considered as sinks for atmospheric CH4, and N input as a factor which reduces CH4 uptake by soils. We aimed to assess the short- and long-term effects of a wide range of N inputs, and of grazing versus mowing, on net CH4 emissions of grasslands in the Netherlands. These grasslands are mostly intensively managed with a total N input via fertilisation and atmospheric deposition in the range of 300-500 kg N ha-1 year-1. Net CH4 emissions were measured with vented, closed flux chambers at four contrasting sites, which were chosen to represent a range of N inputs. There were no significant effects of grazing versus mowing, stocking density, and withholding N fertilisation for 3-9 years, on net CH4 emissions. When the ground-water level was close to the soil surface, the injection of cattle slurry resulted in a significant net CH4 production. The highest atmospheric CH4 uptake was found at the site with the lowest N input and the lowest ground-water level, with an annual CH4 uptake of 1.1 kg CH4 ha-1 year-1. This is assumed to be the upper limit of CH4 uptake by grasslands in the Netherlands. We conclude that grasslands in the Netherlands are a net sink of CH4, with an estimated CH4 uptake of 0.5 Gg CH4 year-1. At the current rates of total N input, the overall effect of N fertilisation on net CH4 emissions from grasslands is thought to be small or negligible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-30
JournalBiology and Fertility of Soils
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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