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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 68 No. 4, p. 1285-1294
    Received: May 6, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): cesar.izaurralde@pnl.gov


Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Agricultural Toposequences in Alberta and Saskatchewan

  1. R. C. Izaurralde *a,
  2. R. L. Lemkeb,
  3. T. W. Goddardc,
  4. B. McConkeyb and
  5. Z. Zhangc
  1. a Joint Global Change Research Institute, Univ. of Maryland, 8400 Baltimore Ave., Suite 201, College Park, MD 20740-2496
    b Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre, P.O. Box 1030, Airport Road, Swift Current, SK S9H 3X2, Canada
    c Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 206 J.G. O'Donoghue Bldg., 7000 113 St., Edmonton, AB T6H 5T6, Canada


Nitrous oxide fluxes from soils are inherently variable in time and space. An improved understanding of this variability is needed to make accurate estimates of N2O fluxes at a regional scale. The objectives of this work were to (i) characterize the influence of soil–landscape combinations and N application rates on N2O emissions and to (ii) determine the contribution of these influences on the estimation of N2O emissions at the field scale. We used static chambers and gas chromatography methods to measure N2O fluxes and collected ancillary data (mineral N, water soluble C, soil water content, soil temperature) in Canada at Mundare (AB) in the aspen parkland ecoregion and at Swift Current (SK) in the short-grass prairie ecoregion. At Mundare, measurements were taken in 1995 and 1996 by landscape position and land use. At Swift Current, data were collected in 1999 and 2000 by landscape position and N rate. At Mundare, landscape position affected N2O emissions but the pattern varied seasonally. During a 46-d period in summer 1995, a flux of 430 g N2O-N ha−1 measured in a backslope was greater than the 60 g N2O-N ha−1 measured on average in shoulder and depressional areas. The flux pattern changed during a 43-d spring thaw of 1996 when fluxes from depressional areas were greatest (1710 g N2O-N ha−1). Nitrous oxide emissions from natural areas were small. The emission pattern during summer 1996 was similar to that of 1995 but the fluxes were an order of magnitude larger. At Swift Current, N2O fluxes in summer 1999 were affected by topography and N rate. Fluxes were greatest in depressional areas receiving N at 110 kg ha−1 (3140 g N2O-N ha−1). Use of the area fraction occupied by each landscape position to calculate N2O flux increased the estimates of N2O fluxes at the field scale in five out of six cases. Further research of N2O fluxes in variable landscapes should help elucidate factors controlling N2O fluxes from pedon to field scale and thus translate into improved flux estimates at regional scales.

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