Impacts of natural factors and farming practices on greenhouse gas emissions in the North China Plain: A meta-analysis

Cong Xu, Xiao Han, Roland Bol, Pete Smith, Wenliang Wu, Fanqiao Meng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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Requirements for mitigation of the continued increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are much needed for the North China Plain (NCP). We conducted a meta-analysis of 76 published studies of 24 sites in the NCP to examine the effects of natural conditions and farming practices on GHG emissions in that region. We found that N2O was the main component of the area-scaled total GHG balance, and the CH4 contribution was <5%. Precipitation, temperature, soil pH, and texture had no significant impacts on annual GHG emissions, because of limited variation of these factors in the NCP. The N2O emissions increased exponentially with mineral fertilizer N application rate, with y = 0.2389e0.0058x for wheat season and y = 0.365e0.0071x for maize season. Emission factors were estimated at 0.37% for wheat and 0.90% for maize at conventional fertilizer N application rates. The agronomic optimal N rates (241 and 185 kg N ha−1 for wheat and maize, respectively) exhibited great potential for reducing N2O emissions, by 0.39 (29%) and 1.71 (56%) kg N2O-N ha−1 season−1 for the wheat and maize seasons, respectively. Mixed application of organic manure with reduced mineral fertilizer N could reduce annual N2O emissions by 16% relative to mineral N application alone while maintaining a high crop yield. Compared with conventional tillage, no-tillage significantly reduced N2O emissions by ~30% in the wheat season, whereas it increased those emissions by ~10% in the maize season. This may have resulted from the lower soil temperature in winter and increased soil moisture in summer under no-tillage practice. Straw incorporation significantly increased annual N2O emissions, by 26% relative to straw removal. Our analysis indicates that these farming practices could be further tested to mitigate GHG emission and maintain high crop yields in the NCP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6702-6715
Number of pages14
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number17
Early online date21 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

This work received support from the National Science and Technology Support Program (No. 2012BAD14B01), the National 948 Project (No. 2011-G30), and the Non-profit Research Foundation for Agriculture (201103039). Thanks are expressed to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


  • farming practice
  • fertilizer
  • meta-analysis
  • methane
  • natural factor
  • nitrous oxide


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