Modelling nitrous oxide emissions of high input maize crop systems

P.P. Roggero, (submitter)


Arable soils are a large source of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions and several factors may affect the processes responsible of its production (nitrification and denitrification). In particular, forage crop systems for dairy farming are among the cropping systems with highest N input, mainly because they are based on high yielding forage grasses such as maize. A number of options have been explored to decrease the emissions but they remain site specific and are related to climatic, soil and local availability of management options. Moreover, guidelines for estimating N2O emission from agricultural soils does not take into account different crops, soils, climate and management, all of which are known to affect nitrification-denitrification and N2O production and emission.Process-based models represent a promising route to capture the spatial and temporal variability of N2O emissions, along with the effects of crop management. Nevertheless, the testing and comparison of these models have been limited to only a few works, with studies mainly based on biogeochemical models rather than process-based crop models. Furthermore, a multi-model ensemble analysis, which proved to be the best option for crop system analysis, has not been done extensively for the simulation of N2O emissions to addressing the various options for mitigations practices related to maize crop fertilization systems.Our objective is to evaluate the performances of several process-based models in simulating N2O emissions under different type, amount, rate of N fertilizer, i) quantify N2O emission, as a function of nitrogen inputs, across a wide range of soil types and environmental contexts; ii) assess the uncertainty in simulating N2O emissions, and iii) identify efficient mitigation of N-fertilized maize systems.

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