Spring-Thaw Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Reed Canarygrass on Wetness-Prone Marginal Soil in New York State

C. Mason, C.R. Stoof, B.K. Richards, D. Rossiter, T.S. Steenhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In temperate climates, a significant fraction of annual emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from agricultural land can occur during soil thaw in late winter and early spring. The objective of this study is to determine the impact of land use change from long-term fallow grassland to managed perennial grass crops on these thaw-related N2O emissions, and to identify field-scale drivers that influence emissions. Using static chambers, we monitored mid-afternoon N2O fluxes during the 2013 spring thaw from March 27 to April 7, observing fallow grassland and second year reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinaceae L., v. Bellevue) over a short topographical gradient. Soil temperature, soil moisture and residual above-ground biomass were also observed, as were
hourly air temperature and precipitation. Fluxes of N2O were generally low (-9.8 to 21.3 μg N2O-N m-2 hr-1) except for one observation of 77.6 μg N2O-N m-2 hr-1. Hot-moment analysis, non-parametric statistical tests, and ANOVA results showed that downslope positions converted to managed and fertilized grass had significantly higher N2O emissions compared to the fallow and upslope positions. We found that these downslope managed grass sites had mean soil
moisture of 75.0 % water filled pore space (WFPS) and less insulating residual above-ground biomass than the fallow grassland. Our results suggest that converting fallow grassland to managed perennial grass cropping systems for bioenergy or other uses could increase springthaw N2O emissions in wetness-prone areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-437
JournalSoil Science Society of America Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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