Plant and Soil

, Volume 373, Issue 1–2, pp 17–30 | Cite as

Background nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural and natural lands: a meta-analysis

  • Dong-Gill Kim
  • Donna Giltrap
  • Guillermo Hernandez-Ramirez
Regular Article



This study aimed at better characterising background nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions (BNE) in agricultural and natural lands.


We compiled and analysed field-measured data for annual background N2O emission in agricultural (BNEA) and natural (BNEN) lands from 600 and 307 independent experimental studies, respectively.


There were no significant differences between BNEA (median: 0.70 & mean: 1.52 kg N2O − N ha−1 yr−1) and BNEN (median:0.31 & mean:1.75 kg N2O − N ha−1 yr−1) (P > 0.05). A simultaneous comparison across all BNEA and BNEN indicated that BNEs from riparian, vegetable crop fields and intentional fallow areas were significantly higher than from boreal forests (P < 0.05). Correlation and regression analyses supported the underlying associations of soil organic carbon (C), nitrogen (N), pH, bulk density (BD),and/or air temperature (AT) with BNEs to a varying degree as a function of land-use or ecosystem type (Ps < 0.05).


Although overall BNEN tended to be lower than BNEA on median basis, results in general suggest that land-use shifts between natural and managed production systems would not result in consistent changes in BNE.


Background nitrous oxide emissions Agricultural lands Natural lands Land-use type Meta-analysis Negative nitrous oxide flux 

Supplementary material

11104_2013_1762_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (290 kb)
ESM 1We have created a Blog entitled ‘Background nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural and natural lands’ ( and an open-access database entitled ‘Background nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural and natural lands database’ (; linked in the Blog) based on this review. In the Blog, we have posted a technical summary of each section of this review, where comments can be left under the posts. The database contains detailed information on the studies reported on the background nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural and natural lands, such as location, climate, crop type, soil properties, N2O emission measurement periods, N input rate, biomass yield, and cumulative N2O emission. The authors do not have any relationship with the companies currently being used to host the Blog and databases. (XLSX 289 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dong-Gill Kim
    • 1
  • Donna Giltrap
    • 2
  • Guillermo Hernandez-Ramirez
    • 3
  1. 1.Wondo Genet College of Forestry and Natural ResourcesHawassa UniversityShashemeneEthiopia
  2. 2.Landcare ResearchPalmerston NorthNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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