The annual and interannual characteristics of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from conventional vegetable fields are poorly understood. We carried out 4 year measurements of N2O fluxes from a conventional vegetable cultivation area in the Yangtze River delta. Under fertilized conditions subject to farming practices, approximately 86% of the annual total N2O release occurred following fertilization events. The direct emission factors (EFd) of the 12 individual vegetable seasons investigated ranged from 0.06 to 14.20%, with a mean of 3.09% and a coefficient of variation (CV) of 142%. The annual EFd varied from 0.59 to 4.98%, with a mean of 2.88% and an interannual CV of 74%. The mean value is much larger than the latest default value (1.00%) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Occasional application of lagoon‐stored manure slurry coupled with other nitrogen fertilizers, or basal nitrogen addition immediately followed by heavy rainfall, accounted for a substantial portion of the large EFds observed in warm seasons. The large CVs suggest that the emission factors obtained from short‐term observations that poorly represent seasonality and/or interannual variability will inevitably yield large uncertainties in inventory estimation. The results of this study indicate that conventional vegetable fields associated with intensive nitrogen addition, as well as occasional applications of manure slurry, may substantially account for regional N2O emissions. However, this conclusion needs to be further confirmed through studies at multiple field sites. Moreover, further experimental studies are needed to test the mitigation options suggested by this study for N2O emissions from open vegetable fields.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.


This is an article published by AGU in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres in 2011, available online: