Modelling spatial and inter-annual variations of nitrous oxide emissions from UK cropland and grasslands using DailyDayCent

N. Fitton, A. Datta, J.M. Cloy, R.M. Rees, C.F.E. Topp, M.J. Bell, L.M. Cardenas, J. Williams, K. Smith, R. Thorman, C.J. Watson, K.L. McGeough, M. Kuhnert, A. Hastings, S. Anthony, D. Chadwick, P. Smith

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Abstract Agricultural soils are the primary source of nitrous oxide emissions due to management practices including fertiliser application. While fertiliser rates are one of the main drivers of nitrous oxide emissions, emissions are also dependent on other variables such as climate and soil properties. To understand the spatial and inter-annual variations in emission rate, simulations of N2O emissions were made from 2000 to 2010 for UK grass and croplands. In addition, the sensitivity of these emissions to soil and climate inputs was also tested. Emissions of between 0.3 to 3.5 kg N ha−1 yr−1 and 0.7–7 kg N ha−1 yr−1 were simulated across UK croplands and grasslands, respectively. While inter-annual variations can be attributed to climate influences, the primary driver of spatial variations in emissions was soil clay content. However, when the sensitivity of nitrous oxide emissions to soil clay content alone was tested, it was not always the best predictor of emissions, when soil texture is altered outside of the normal range used as inputs to the model from different databases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAgriculture Ecosystems & Environment
Early online date7 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

This work contributes to the Defra funded projects AC0116: ‘Improving the nitrous oxide inventory’, and AC0114: ‘Data Synthesis, Management and Modelling’. Funding for this work was provided by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) AC0116 and AC0114, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for Northern Ireland, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government. Rothamsted Research receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. This study also contributes to the projects: N-Circle (BB/N013484/1), U-GRASS (NE/M016900/1) and GREENHOUSE (NE/K002589/1).


  • Nitrous oxide emissions
  • DailyDayCent
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • Spatial analysis


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