Plant and Soil

, Volume 371, Issue 1–2, pp 611–627 | Cite as

Processes leading to N2O and NO emissions from two different Chinese soils under different soil moisture contents

  • Ting Lan
  • Yong Han
  • Marco Roelcke
  • Rolf Nieder
  • Zucong Cai
Regular Article


Background and Aims

Great attention has been paid to N2O emissions from paddy soils under summer rice-winter wheat double-crop rotation, while less focus was given to the NO emissions. Besides, neither mechanism is completely understood. Therefore, this study aimed at evaluating the relative importance of nitrification and denitrification to N2O and NO emissions from the two soils at different soil moisture contents


N2O and NO emissions during one winter wheat season were simultaneously measured in situ in two rice-wheat based field plots at two different locations in Jiangsu Province, China. One soil was neutral in pH with silt loam texture (NSL), the other soil alkaline in pH with a clay texture (AC). A 15 N tracer incubation experiment was conducted in the laboratory to evaluate the relative importance of nitrification and denitrification for N2O and NO emissions at soil moisture contents of 40 % water holding capacity (WHC), 65 % WHC and 90 % WHC.


Higher N2O emission rates in the AC soil than in the NSL soil were found both in the field and in the laboratory experiments; however, the differences in N2O emissions between AC soil and NSL soil were smaller in the field than in the laboratory. In the latter experiment, nitrification was observed to be the more important source of N2O emissions (>70 %) than denitrification, regardless of the soils and moisture treatments, with the only exception of the AC soil at 90 % WHC, at which the contributions of nitrification and denitrification to N2O emissions were comparable. The ratios of NO/N2O also supported the evidence that the nitrification process was the dominant source of N2O and NO both in situ and in the laboratory. The proportion of nitrified N emitted as N2O (P N2O ) in NSL soil were around 0.02 % in all three moisture treatments, however, P N2O in the AC soil (0.04 % to 0.10 %) tended to decrease with increasing soil moisture content.


Our results suggest that N2O emission rates obtained from laboratory incubation experiments are not suitable for the estimation of the true amount of N2O fluxes on a field scale. Besides, the variations of P N2O with soil property and soil moisture content should be taken into account in model simulations of N2O emission from soils.


Nitrification Denitrification NO/N2Soil moisture Soil pH Rice-wheat rotation 



This project was financially supported by the Sino-German collaborative project: “Innovative nitrogen management technologies to improve agricultural production and environmental protection in intensive Chinese agriculture”, “Cultivated land conservation and nitrogen fertilizer management technology”. Co-funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST grant no. 2007DFA30850) and the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF FKZ: 0330800C), as well as by a DAAD-PPP (project ID 50751522) with the China Scholarship Council (personal approval no. 2011016097).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable AgricultureInstitute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Geoecology, Technische Universität BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany
  3. 3.College of Geography ScienceNanjing Normal UniversityNanjingChina

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