Estimating nitrogen flows of agricultural soils at a landscape level – A modelling study of the Upper Enns Valley, a long-term socio-ecological research region in Austria

Schroeck AM, Gaube V, Haas E, & Winiwarter W ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7131-1496 (2019). Estimating nitrogen flows of agricultural soils at a landscape level – A modelling study of the Upper Enns Valley, a long-term socio-ecological research region in Austria. Science of the Total Environment 665: 275-289. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.071.

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Abstract

This paper explores the fate of reactive nitrogen (Nr) on the landscape scale of present agricultural production practice on arable and grassland soils. We use the soil modelling tool LandscapeDNDC (landscape scale DeNitrification-DeComposition model) to quantify resulting flows of Nr distributed to the atmosphere, hydrosphere and the crops. Test area is a watershed in the Austrian Alps characterized by arable production in the low-lying areas and grassland in the mountains. The approach considers an overall budget of nitrogen, and determines the nitrogen use efficiency for individual crops and crop rotations, with average levels found at 85% for the arable area and 68-98% for the grassland areas. Modelled Nr flows are compared to the values resulting from the national emission factor (EF) method used for the Austrian emission inventory. For the arable part of the study region, the annual sum of released Nr emissions derived from LandscapeDNDC modelling is lower than the result of the EF method by about 13% (or 7 kg N ha-1). Model results are lower also for other Nr species, yet nitrate leaching rates as well as ammonia emissions contribute a major share. For grassland areas, nitrate leaching values estimated by LandscapeDNDC greatly depend on local specifics and substantially exceed EF estimates. All other modelled Nr species are lower than the EF results. The model set-up allows to characterize spatially explicit effects of mitigation measures. As an example, we identify nitrous oxide (N2O) hot spots in the study region, and we quantify the N2O emission saving potential if focusing reduction efforts to such hot spots. Reducing fertilization of hot spots by half could remove 14% of N2O emission for 5% less crop yield and a loss of grassland yield by <1% when extrapolated to the whole study area.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: DNDC; LTSER; Nitrogen budget; Nitrogen use efficiency; Nitrous oxide emission hot spots; Soil emission modelling
Research Programs: Air Quality & Greenhouse Gases (AIR)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2019 12:06
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2019 12:06
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/15760

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