Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 100, Issue 2, pp 161–175 | Cite as

Nitrous oxide and methane emissions from cultivated seasonal wetland (dambo) soils with inorganic, organic and integrated nutrient management

  • G. Nyamadzawo
  • M. Wuta
  • J. Nyamangara
  • J. L. Smith
  • R. M. Rees
Original Article


In many smallholder farming areas southern Africa, the cultivation of seasonal wetlands (dambos) represent an important adaptation to climate change. Frequent droughts and poor performance of rain-fed crops in upland fields have resulted in mounting pressure to cultivate dambos where both organic and inorganic amendments are used to sustain crop yields. Dambo cultivation potentially increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The objective of the study was to quantify the effects of applying different rates of inorganic nitrogen (N) fertilisers (60, 120, 240 kg N ha−1) as NH4NO3, organic manures (5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 kg ha−1) and a combination of both sources (integrated management) on GHG emissions in cultivated dambos planted to rape (Brassica napus). Nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in plots with organic manures ranged from 218 to 894 µg m−2 h−1, while for inorganic N and integrated nutrient management, emissions ranged from 555 to 5,186 µg m−2 h−1 and 356–2,702 µg m−2 h−1 respectively. Cropped and fertilised dambos were weak sources of methane (CH4), with emissions ranging from −0.02 to 0.9 mg m−2 h−1, while manures and integrated management increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, crop yields were better under integrated nutrient management. The use of inorganic fertilisers resulted in higher N2O emission per kg yield obtained (6–14 g N2O kg−1 yield), compared to 0.7–4.5 g N2O kg−1 yield and 1.6–4.6 g N2O kg−1 yield for organic manures and integrated nutrient management respectively. This suggests that the use of organic and integrated nutrient management has the potential to increase yield and reduce yield scaled N2O emissions.


Cultivated dambos Greenhouse gas emission Integrated nutrient management Mitigation Rape (Brassica napus



We would like to thank Noah and Nicolas Rusere, Ben Chafadza for their assistance with data collection. We are thankful to John Parker and Juliette Marie Scottish Agricultural College for sample analysis. This work was supported by IFS [grant C/4569-1]; DAAD Fellowship [grant number A/10/03022] and the Climate Food and Farming (CLIFF) network under the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).


  1. Bell M, Roberts N (1991) The political ecology of dambo soil and water resources in Zimbabwe. T I Brit Geogr 16:301–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bodelier PLE, Roslev P, Henckel T, Frenzel P (2000a) Stimulation by ammonium-based fertilisers of methane oxidation in soil around rice roots. Nature 403:421–424PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bodelier PLE, Hahn AP, Arth IR, Frenzel P (2000b) Effects of ammonium-based fertilisation on microbial processes involved in methane emission from soils planted with rice. Biogeochemistry 51:225–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bouwman AF, Bouwman LJM, Batjes NH (2002) Modeling global annual N2O and NO emissions from fertilized fields. Global Biogeochem Cy 16. doi: 10.1029/2001GB001812
  5. Bratton M (1987) Drought, food and the social organisation of small farmers in Zimbabwe. In: Glantz M (ed) Drought and hunger in Africa denying famine a future. Cambridge University Press, New York, pp 31–35Google Scholar
  6. Brown DJ, Nyamadzawo G, Denison PE (2008) Spatially distributed methane flux measurements for a tropical dambo wetland landscape in Uganda. American Geophysical Union (AGU), California.
  7. Bullock A (1992) Dambo hydrology in Southern Africa—review and reassessment. J Hydrol 134(1–4):373–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Camberlin P, Moron V, Okoola R et al (2009) Components of rainy seasons’ variability in Equatorial East Africa: onset, cessation, rainfall frequency and intensity. Theor Appl Climatol 98(3–4):237–249. doi: 10.1007/s00704-009-0113-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapuis-Lardy L, Wrage N, Metay A, Chotte JL, Bernoux M (2007) Soils, a sink for N2O? A review. Global Change Biol 13:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chen ST, Huang Y, Zou JW (2008) Relationship between nitrous oxide emission and winter wheat production. Biol Fertil Soils 44:985–989CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Conrad R (1997) Production and consumption of methane in the terrestrial biosphere. In: Helas G, Slanina S, Steinbrecher R (eds) Biogenic volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere. SPB Academic Publishers, Amsterdam, p 27–44Google Scholar
  12. Couwenberg J, Dommain R, Joosten H (2010) Greenhouse gas fluxes from tropical peatlands in south-east Asia. Global Change Biol 16:1715–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dambo Research Unit (1987) Utilisation of dambos in Rural Development. A discussion document prepared by the Dambo Research Unit Loughborough University, UK and University of Zimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe Publications, HarareGoogle Scholar
  14. Department of Agricultural Research (2006) Manual for vegetable production in Botswana. The Horticultural Research Program. Department of Agricultural Research.
  15. Department of Meterological Services (1981) Climate handbook of Zimbabwe. Department of Meterological Services, HarareGoogle Scholar
  16. Dick J, Kaya B, Soutoura M et al (2008) The contribution of agricultural practices to nitrous oxide emissions in semi-arid Mali. Soil Use Manage 24:292–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. FAO (2006) Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations. Fertilizer use by crop in Zimbabwe, First edn. FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  18. Hendricks DMD, van Huissteden J, Dolman AJ, van der Molen MK (2007) The full greenhouse gas balance of abandoned peat meadows. Biogeosciences 4:411–424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hodge A, Robinson D, Fitter A (2000) Are microorganisms more effective than plants at competing for nitrogen? Trends Plant Sci 5:304–308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. IPCC (2006) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventories. WMO/UNEP. Accessed 16 July 2011
  21. Kachanoski RG, O’Halloran I, Rochette P (2003) Site-specific application of fertilizer N for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change funding initiative in agriculture. Canadian Agri-Food Research Council, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  22. Khalil MAK, Rasmussen RA, Shearer MJ (1998) Flux measurements and sampling strategies: applications to methane emissions from rice fields. J Geophys Res 103:25211–25218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Khalil MAK, Shearer MJ, Rasmussen RA, Duan C, Lexin R (2008) Production, oxidation, and emissions of methane from rice fields in China. J Geophys Res 113(G3):2005–2012. doi: 10.1029/2007JG000461 Google Scholar
  24. Kuikman PJ, Velthof GL, Oenema O (2003) Controlling nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture: experiences in the Netherlands. In: Proceedings of the 3rd international methane and nitrous oxide mitigation conference, Beijing, pp. 415–422Google Scholar
  25. Kuntashula E, Sileshi G, Mafongoya PL, Banda J (2006) Farmer participatory evaluation of the potential for organic vegetable production in the wetlands of Zambia. Outlook Agr 35(4):299–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Le Mer J, Roger P (2001) Production, oxidation, emission and consumption of methane by soils: a review. Europ J Soil Biol 37(1):25–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Malhi SS, Lemke RL, Wang Z et al (2006) Tillage, nitrogen and crop residue effects on crop yield and nutrient uptake, soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions. Soil Till Res 90:171–183Google Scholar
  28. Mapanda F, Mangwayana EN, Nyamangara J, Giller KE (2007) Uptake of heavy metals by vegetables irrigated using wastewater and the subsequent risks in Harare, Zimbabwe. Phys Chem Earth 30:1399–1405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mapanda F, Wuta M, Nyamangara J, Rees RM (2011) Effects of organic and mineral fertilizers on greenhouse gas emissions and plant-captured carbon under maize cropping in Zimbabwe. Plant Soil 343:67–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Masaka J, Nyamangara J, Wuta M (2014) Nitrous oxide emissions from wetland soil amended with inorganic and organic fertilizers. Arch Agron Soil Sci. doi: 10.1080/03650340.2014.890707 Google Scholar
  31. McSwiney CP, Robertson GP (2005) Non-linear response of N2O flux to incremental fertilizer addition in a continuous maize (Zea mays L.) cropping system. Global Change Biol 11:1712–1719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mosier AR, Kroeze C, Nevison C et al (1998) Closing the global N2O budget: nitrous oxide emissions through the agricultural nitrogen cycle. OECD/IPCC/IEA phase II development of IPCC guidelines for national greenhouse gas inventory methodology. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 52:225–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Murdiyarso D, Hergoualch K, Verchot LV (2010) Opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in tropical peatlands. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:19655–19660PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Mutegi JK, Munkholm LJ, Petersen BM et al (2010) Nitrous oxide emissions and controls as influenced by tillage and crop residue management strategy. Soil Biol Biochem 42:1701–1711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nyamadzawo G, Wuta M, Chirinda N, Smith JL (2013) Greenhouse gas emissions from intermittently flooded (dambo) rice under different tillage practices in Chiota smallholder farming area of Zimbabwe. Atmos Clim Sci 2:502–509Google Scholar
  36. Nyamadzawo G, Shi Y, Chirinda N, Olesen JE, Wuta M, Mapanda F, Wu W, Oelofse M, Andreas de Neergaard (2014a) Combining organic and inorganic nitrogen fertilisation reduces N2O emissions from cereal crops: a comparative analysis of China and Zimbabwe. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang. doi: 10.1007/s11027-014-9560-9
  37. Nyamadzawo G, Wuta M, Nyamangara J, Rees B, Smith JL (2014b) Estimating GHG  gas emissions along a tropical seasonal wetland (dambo) transect from central Zimbabwe. Arch Agron Soil Sci. doi: 10.1080/03650340.2014.926332
  38. Otter LB, Scholes MC (2000) Methane sources and sinks in a periodically flooded South African savannah. Global Biogeochem Cy 14(1):97–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peng Q, Qi Y, Dong Y, Xiao S, He Y (2011) Soil nitrous oxide emissions from a typical semiarid temperate steppe in inner Mongolia: effects of mineral nitrogen fertilizer levels and forms. Plant Soil 342:345–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rees RM, Wuta M, Furley PA, Li CS (2006) Nitrous oxide fluxes from savanna (miombo) woodlands in Zimbabwe. J Biogeogr 33:424–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scholes M, Andreae MO (2000) Biogenic and pyrogenic emissions from Africa and their impact on the global atmosphere. Ambio 29:20–23Google Scholar
  42. Schrier-Uij A (2010) the influence of management alternatives on the greenhouse gas balance of fen meadows areas. PhD dissertation. Wageningen University, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  43. Schutz H, Holzapfel-Pschorn A, Conrad R, Renneberg H, Seiler W (1989) A 3-year continuous record on the influence of daytime, season, and fertiliser treatment on methane emission rates from an Italian rice paddy. J Geophys Res 94:16405–16416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Scoones I, Marongwe N, Mavedzenge B, Mahenehene J, Murimbarimba F, Sukume C (2010) Zimbabwe's land reform: myths and realities. James Currey, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Shi YF, Wu WL, Meng FQ et al (2013) Integrated management practices significantly affect N2O emissions and wheat–maize production at field scale in the North China Plain. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 95:203–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Signor D, Cerri CEP, Conant R (2013) N2O emissions due to nitrogen fertilizer applications in two regions of sugarcane cultivation in Brazil. Environ Res Lett. doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/015013 Google Scholar
  47. Smith KA, McTaggart IP, Dobbie KE, Conen F (1998) Emissions of N2O from Scottish agricultural soils, as a function of fertilizer N. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 52:123–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Smith P, Martino D, Cai Z, Gwary D, Janzen H, Kumar P, McCarl B, Ogle S, O’Mara F, Rice C, Scholes B, Sirotenko O (2007) Agriculture. In: Metz B, Davidson OR, Bosch PR, Dave R, Meyer LA (eds) Climate change 2007: mitigation. Contribution of working group III to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  49. Snyder CS, Bruulesema TW, Jensen TL, Fixen PE (2009) Review of greenhouse gas emissions from crop production systems and fertilizer management effects. Agr Ecosyst Environ 133:247–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Takakai F, Morishita T, Hashidoko Y, Darung U, Kuramochi K, Dohong S, Limin S, Hatano HR (2006) Effects of agricultural land-use change and forest fire on N2O emission from tropical peatlands, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Soil Sci Plant Nutr 52:662–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. VSN International Ltd (2011) Genstat statistical package, release 14.1, 14th edn. Hemel Hempstead, UK.
  52. Whalen S, Reeburgh W (2000) Methane oxidation, production and emission at contrasting sites in a boreal bog. Geomicrobiol J 17:237–251Google Scholar
  53. Whitlow JR (1985) Dambos in Zimbabwe: a review. In: Thomas MF, Goudie AS (eds) Dambos: small channelless valleys in the tropics. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie. Borntraeger 52, Stuttgard, pp 115–146Google Scholar
  54. Wuta M (2003) Nutrient dynamics in Miombo woodland in Zimbabwe. PhD Dissertation. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UKGoogle Scholar
  55. Xiong Z, Xie Y, Xing G, Zhu Z, Butenhoff C (2006) Measurement of nitrous oxide emissions from vegetables production in China. Atmos Environ 40:2225–2234CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Nyamadzawo
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Wuta
    • 1
  • J. Nyamangara
    • 3
  • J. L. Smith
    • 4
  • R. M. Rees
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Soil Science and Agricultural EngineeringUniversity of ZimbabweMount Pleasant, HarareZimbabwe
  2. 2.Department of Environmental ScienceBindura University of Science EducationBinduraZimbabwe
  3. 3.International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid TropicsBulawayoZimbabwe
  4. 4.USDA-Agricultural Research ServiceWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  5. 5.Scotland’s Rural CollegeEdinburghScotland, UK

Personalised recommendations