Climatic Change

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 315–332 | Cite as

Estimated N2O and CO2 Emissions as Influenced by Agricultural Practices in Canada

  • B. Grant
  • W. N. Smith
  • R. Desjardins
  • R. Lemke
  • C. Li


The Denitrification-Decompostion (DNDC) model was used to estimate the impact of change in management practices on N2O emissions in seven major soil regions in Canada, for the period 1970 to 2029. Conversion of cultivated land to permanent grassland would result in the greatest reduction in N2O emissions, particularly in eastern Canada wherethe model estimated about 60% less N2O emissions for thisconversion. About 33% less N2O emissions were predicted for a changefrom conventional tillage to no-tillage in western Canada, however, a slight increase in N2O emissions was predicted for eastern Canada. GreaterN2O emissions in eastern Canada associated with the adoption of no-tillage were attributed to higher soil moisture causing denitrification, whereas the lower emissions in western Canada were attributed to less decomposition of soil organic matter in no-till versus conventional tilled soil. Elimination of summer fallow in a crop rotation resulted in a 9% decrease in N2O emissions, with substantial emissions occurringduring the wetter fallow years when N had accumulated. Increasing N-fertilizer application rates by 50% increased average emissions by 32%,while a 50% decrease of N-fertilizer application decreased emissions by16%. In general, a small increase in N2O emissions was predicted when N-fertilizer was applied in the fall rather than in the spring. Previous research on CO2 emissions with the CENTURY model (Smith et al.,2001) allowed the quantification of the combined change in N2O andCO2 emissions in CO2 equivalents for a wide range of managementpractices in the seven major soil regions in Canada. The management practices that have the greatest potential to reduce the combined N2O andCO2 emissions are conversion from conventional tillage to permanent grassland, reduced tillage, and reduction of summer fallow. The estimated net greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction when changing from cultivated land to permanent grassland ranged from 0.97 (Brown Chernozem) to 4.24 MgCO2 equiv. ha−1 y−1 (BlackChernozem) for the seven soil regions examined. When changing from conventional tillage to no-tillage the net GHG emission reduction ranged from 0.33 (Brown Chernozem) to 0.80 Mg CO2 equiv. ha−1 y−1 (Dark GrayLuvisol). Elimination of fallow in the crop rotation lead to an estimated net GHG emission reduction of 0.43 (Brown Chernozem) to 0.80 Mg CO2 equiv.ha−1 y−1 (Dark Brown Chernozem). The addition of 50% more or 50% less N-fertilizer both resulted in slight increases in combined CO2 and N2O emissions. There was a tradeoff in GHG flux with greaterN2O emissions and a comparable increase in carbon storage when 50% more N-fertilizer was added. The results from this work indicate that conversion of cultivated land to grassland, the conversion from conventional tillage to no-tillage, and the reduction of summerallow in crop rotations could substantially increase C sequestration and decrease net GHG emissions. Based on these results a simple scaling-up scenario to derive the possible impacts on Canada's Kyoto commitment has been calculated.


Denitrification Crop Rotation Conventional Tillage High Soil Moisture Permanent Grassland 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Grant
    • 1
  • W. N. Smith
    • 1
  • R. Desjardins
    • 1
  • R. Lemke
    • 1
  • C. Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Research BranchAgriculture Agri-Food CanadaOttawaCanada

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