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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Challenges of accounting nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural crop residues

Olesen, Jorgen E.; Rees, Robert M.; Recous, Sylvie; Bleken, Marina A.; Abalos, Diego; Ahuja, Ishita; Butterbach-Bahl, Klaus; Carozzi, Marco; De Notaris, Chiara; Ernfors, Maria; Haas, Edwin; Hansen, Sissel; Janz, Baldur; Lashermes, Gwenaelle; Massad, Raia S.; Petersen, Soren O.; Rittl, Tatiana F.; Scheer, Clemens; Smith, Kate E.; Thiebeau, Pascal;
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Crop residues are important inputs of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) to soils and thus directly and indirectly affect nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. As the current inventory methodology considers N inputs by crop residues as the sole determining factor for N2O emissions, it fails to consider other underlying factors and processes. There is compelling evidence that emissions vary greatly between residues with different biochemical and physical characteristics, with the concentrations of mineralizable N and decomposable C in the residue biomass both enhancing the soil N2O production potential. High concentrations of these components are associated with immature residues (e.g., cover crops, grass, legumes, and vegetables) as opposed to mature residues (e.g., straw). A more accurate estimation of the short-term (months) effects of the crop residues on N2O could involve distinguishing mature and immature crop residues with distinctly different emission factors. The medium-term (years) and long-term (decades) effects relate to the effects of residue management on soil N fertility and soil physical and chemical properties, considering that these are affected by local climatic and soil conditions as well as land use and management. More targeted mitigation efforts for N2O emissions, after addition of crop residues to the soil, are urgently needed and require an improved methodology for emission accounting. This work needs to be underpinned by research to (1) develop and validate N2O emission factors for mature and immature crop residues, (2) assess emissions from belowground residues of terminated crops, (3) improve activity data on management of different residue types, in particular immature residues, and (4) evaluate long-term effects of residue addition on N2O emissions.


accounting; crop residues; immature; inventory; mature; nitrogen; nitrous oxide; soil

Published in

Global Change Biology
2023, Volume: 29, number: 24, pages: 6846-6855
Publisher: WILEY

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
    Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Soil Science

    Publication identifier


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