Partitioning Residue-derived and Residue-induced Emissions of N2O Using 15N-labelled Crop Residues

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Richard E Farrell1, Jacqueline Carverhill2, Reynald Lemke3 and J. Diane Knight1, (1)University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada, (2)Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, Canada, (3)Agriculture and Ari-Food Canada, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Estimates of N2O emissions in Canada indicate that 17% of all agriculture-based emissions are associated with the decomposition of crop residues. However, research specific to the western Canadian prairies (including Saskatchewan) has shown that the N2O emission factor for N sources in this region typically ranges between 0.2 and 0.6%, which is well below the current IPCC default emission factor of 1.0%. Thus, it stands to reason that emissions from crop residues should also be lower than those calculated using the current IPCC emission factor. Current data indicates that residue decomposition, N mineralization and N2O production are affected by a number of factors such as C:N ratio and chemical composition of the residue, soil type, and soil water content; thus, a bench-scale incubation study was conducted to examine the effects of soil type and water content on N2O emissions associated with the decomposition of different crop residues. The study was carried out using soils from the Black, Dark Brown, Brown, and Gray soil zones and was conducted at both 50% and 70% water-filled pore space (WFPS); the soils were amended with 15N-labeled residues of wheat, pea, canola, and flax, or with an equivalent amount of 15N-labeled urea; 15N2O production was monitored using a Picarro G5101-i isotopic N2O analyzer.

Crop residue additions to the soils resulted in both direct and indirect emissions of N2O, with residue derived emissions (RDE; measured as 15N2O) generally exceeding residue-induced emissions (RIE) at 50% WFPS—with RDEs ranging from 42% to 88% (mean = 58%) of the total N2O. Conversely, at 70% WFPS, RDEs were generally lower than RIEs—ranging from 21% to 83% (mean = 48%). Whereas both water content and soil type had an impact on N2O production, there was a clear and consistent trend in the emission factors for the residues; i.e., emissions were always greatest for the canola residue and lowest for the wheat residue and urea fertilizer; and intermediate for pea and flax. Results of this research demonstrate that—under the right environmental conditions—there is considerable potential for both direct and indirect N2O emissions during crop residue decomposition. Moreover, emission factors for the various crop residues tended to increase in the order: wheat ≤ urea < pea < flax << canola.