Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems

, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 161–173 | Cite as

Fluxes of nitrous oxide from soil under different crop rotations and tillage systems in the South of Brazil

  • Claudia P. Jantalia
  • Henrique P. dos Santos
  • Segundo Urquiaga
  • Robert M. Boddey
  • Bruno J. R. Alves
Research Article


The zero tillage (ZT) system is used in a large area (>24 Mha) of crop production in Brazil. This management system can contribute to soil C sequestration, but many studies in other countries have registered greater nitrous oxide emissions under ZT compared to conventional tillage (CT), which may reduce greenhouse gas mitigation benefits. The aim of this study was to estimate the emission of N2O from cropping systems under conventional and zero tillage in an 18-year-old experiment conducted on a Rhodic Ferralsol in the South of Brazil. Fluxes of N2O were measured over two years using static-closed chambers in the two tillage systems with three crop rotations. Soil water filled pore space (%WFPS) and soil mineral N were monitored along with rainfall and air temperature. Estimates of N2O emissions were obtained by integrating the fluxes with time and also by applying the IPCC direct emission factor (EF1 = 1%) to the amounts of N added as fertilisers and returned as crop residues. Fluxes of N2O were relatively low, apart from a short period at the beginning of measurements. No relationship between N2O fluxes and %WFPS or mineral N were observed. Nitrous oxide emissions were not influenced either by tillage system or crop rotation. For the crop rotation receiving high rates of N fertiliser in the second year, field-measured N2O emissions were significantly underestimated by the IPCC emission factor 1 (EF1). For the other treatments measured N2O emissions fell within the EF1 uncertainty range, but always considerably lower than the EF1 estimate, which suggests IPCC EF1 overestimates true N2O emissions for the Ferralsol under evaluation.


Conventional tillage Ferralsol IPCC N2O Emission factors Maize Nitrous oxide emissions Soybean Vetch Wheat Zero tillage 



This study was principally funded by Embrapa, the research grants ‘‘Cientista de Nosso Estado’’ from the Rio de Janeiro State Research Foundation (FAPERJ) awarded to SU, BJRA and RMB, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA—Contract 12978). The authors thank Altiberto M. Baeta, Monalisa S. Coelho and Roberto G. de Souza at Embrapa- Agrobiologia for their technical assistance. The first author, CPJ, gratefully acknowledges the Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq) for a PhD fellowship and, BJRA, SU and RMB for research fellowships.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia P. Jantalia
    • 1
  • Henrique P. dos Santos
    • 2
  • Segundo Urquiaga
    • 1
  • Robert M. Boddey
    • 1
  • Bruno J. R. Alves
    • 1
  1. 1.Embrapa-AgrobiologiaSeropedicaBrazil
  2. 2.Embrapa Wheat Research CentrePasso FundoBrazil

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