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Influences of drip and flood irrigation on soil carbon dioxide emission and soil carbon sequestration of maize cropland in the North China Plain

Abstract

The need is pressing to investigate soil CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions and soil organic carbon dynamics under water-saving irrigation practices in agricultural systems for exploring the potentials of soil carbon sequestration. A field experiment was conducted to compare the influences of drip irrigation (DI) and flood irrigation (FI) on soil organic carbon dynamics and the spatial and temporal variations in CO2 emissions during the summer maize growing season in the North China Plain using the static closed chamber method. The mean CO2 efflux over the growing season was larger under DI than that under FI. The cumulative CO2 emissions at the field scale were 1959.10 and 1759.12 g/m2 under DI and FI, respectively. The cumulative CO2 emission on plant rows (OR) was larger than that between plant rows (BR) under FI, and the cumulative CO2 emission on the irrigation pipes (OP) was larger than that between irrigation pipes (BP) under DI. The cumulative CO2 emissions of OP, BP and bare area (BA) under DI were larger than those of OR, BR and BA under FI, respectively. Additionally, DI promoted root respiration more effectively than FI did. The average proportion of root respiration contributing to the soil CO2 emissions of OP under DI was larger than that of OR under FI. A general conclusion drawn from this study is that soil CO2 emission was significantly influenced by the soil water content, soil temperature and air temperature under both DI and FI. Larger concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and total organic carbon (TOC) were observed under FI than those under DI. The observed high concentrations (DOC, MBC, and TOC) under FI might be resulted from the irrigation-associated soil saturation that in turn inhibited microbial activity and lowered decomposition rate of soil organic matter. However, DI increased the soil organic matter quality (the ratio of MBC to TOC) at the depth of 10–20 cm compared with FI. Our results suggest that the transformation from conventional FI to integrated DI can increase the CO2 emissions and DI needs to be combined with other management practices to reduce the CO2 emissions from summer maize fields in the North China Plain.

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Acknowledgments

The work was supported by the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201203012), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41373084, 41330528, 41203054). The author thanks ZHAI Xuejun and LIU Zhanmao for their helps and guidance on the field experiment.

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Correspondence to Yunshe Dong.

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Guo, S., Qi, Y., Peng, Q. et al. Influences of drip and flood irrigation on soil carbon dioxide emission and soil carbon sequestration of maize cropland in the North China Plain. J. Arid Land 9, 222–233 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-017-0011-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-017-0011-9

Keywords

  • drip irrigation
  • flood irrigation
  • spatio-temporal variation
  • carbon dioxide
  • soil organic carbon
  • North China Plain