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Title: Nitrous oxide emissions during establishment of eight alternative cellulosic bioenergy cropping systems in the North Central United States

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from soils are a key sustainability metric of cropping systems. During crop establishment, disruptive land-use change is known to be a critical, but under reported period, for determining GHG emissions. We measured soil N 2O emissions and potential environmental drivers of these fluxes from a three-year establishment-phase bioenergy cropping systems experiment replicated in southcentral Wisconsin (ARL) and southwestern Michigan (KBS). Cropping systems treatments were annual monocultures (continuous corn, corn–soybean–canola rotation), perennial monocultures (switchgrass, miscanthus, and poplar), and perennial polycultures (native grass mixture, early successional community, and restored prairie) all grown using best management practices specific to the system. Cumulative three-year N 2O emissions from annuals were 142% higher than from perennials, with fertilized perennials 190% higher than unfertilized perennials. Emissions ranged from 3.1 to 19.1 kg N 2O-N ha -1 yr -1 for the annuals with continuous corn > corn–soybean–canola rotation and 1.1 to 6.3 kg N 2O-N ha -1 yr -1 for perennials. Nitrous oxide peak fluxes typically were associated with precipitation events that closely followed fertilization. Bayesian modeling of N 2O fluxes based on measured environmental factors explained 33% of variability across all systems. Models trained on single systems performed well in most monoculturesmore » (e.g., R 2 = 0.52 for poplar) but notably worse in polycultures (e.g., R 2 = 0.17 for early successional, R 2 = 0.06 for restored prairie), indicating that simulation models that include N 2O emissions should be parameterized specific to particular plant communities. These results indicate that perennial bioenergy crops in their establishment phase emit less N 2O than annual crops, especially when not fertilized. These findings should be considered further alongside yield and other metrics contributing to important ecosystem services.« less
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  1. Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States). Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) and Dept. of Agronomy
  2. Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States). Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), W.K. Kellogg Biological Station and Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
FC02-07ER64494; AC05‐76RL01830; AC05-76RL01830
Published Article
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 8; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Research Org:
Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (United States); Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; Bayesian model averaging; cellulosic biofuels; corn; greenhouse gas; miscanthus; poplar; restored prairie; switchgrass
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1295952; OSTI ID: 1438264