Science Bulletin

, Volume 60, Issue 6, pp 598–606 | Cite as

Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through replacement of chemical fertilizer with organic manure in a temperate farmland

  • Haitao Liu
  • Jing Li
  • Xiao Li
  • Yanhai Zheng
  • Sufei Feng
  • Gaoming JiangEmail author
Article Earth Sciences


Burning crop residues and excessive use of chemical fertilizers results in an enormous waste of biological resources, which further weakens the potential capacity of the agro-ecosystem as a carbon sink. To explore the potential of farmlands acting as a carbon sink without yield losses, we conducted an experiment on a temperate eco-farm in eastern rural China. Crop residues were applied to cattle feed, and the composted cattle manure was returned to cropland with a winter wheat and maize rotation. Four different proportions of fertilizers were designed: 100 % cattle manure, 100 % mineral nitrogen, 75 % cattle manure plus 25 % mineral nitrogen, and 50 % cattle manure plus 50 % mineral nitrogen. Crop yield and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were carefully calculated according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories 2006. Our results showed that replacing chemical fertilizer with organic manure significantly decreased the emission of GHGs. Yields of wheat and corn also increased as the soil fertility was improved by the application of cattle manure. Totally replacing chemical fertilizer with organic manure decreased GHG emissions, which reversed the agriculture ecosystem from a carbon source (+2.7 t CO2-eq. hm−2 year−1) to a carbon sink (−8.8 t CO2-eq. hm−2 year−1). Our findings provide useful insights for improving agricultural ecosystems under global change scenarios.


Crop residue Chemical fertilizer Cattle manure Crop yield Greenhouse gas emissions Climate change 



This work was jointly supported by the Key Strategic Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSZD-EW-Z-012-2) and the National Science and Technology Support Program (2012BAD14B00). We acknowledge Dr. Caihong Li and Dr. Yong Li of Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences for their advices and help in the statistical analysis. Special thanks go to the staff of the Eco-farm Research Station of Shandong Agricultural University for providing living facilities during the experimental run.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11434_2014_679_MOESM1_ESM.doc (56 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 56 kb)


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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haitao Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jing Li
    • 1
  • Xiao Li
    • 1
  • Yanhai Zheng
    • 1
  • Sufei Feng
    • 3
  • Gaoming Jiang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of AgronomyShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anChina

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