Beneficial effects of multi-species mixtures on N2O emissions from intensively managed grassland swards

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Cummins, S., Finn, J. A., Richards, K. G., Lanigan, G. J., Grange, G., Brophy, C., Cardenas, L. M., Misselbrook, T. H., Reynolds, C. K. and Krol, D. J. 2021. Beneficial effects of multi-species mixtures on N2O emissions from intensively managed grassland swards. Science of the Total Environment. 792, p. 148163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148163

AuthorsCummins, S., Finn, J. A., Richards, K. G., Lanigan, G. J., Grange, G., Brophy, C., Cardenas, L. M., Misselbrook, T. H., Reynolds, C. K. and Krol, D. J.
Abstract

In a field experiment, annual nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions and grassland yield were measured across different plant communities, comprising systematically varying combinations of monocultures and mixtures of three functional groups (FG): grasses (Lolium perenne, Phleum pratense), legumes (Trifolium pratense, Trifolium repens) and herbs (Cichorium intybus, Plantago lanceolata). Plots received 150 kg ha−1 year−1 nitrogen (N) (150 N), except L. perenne monocultures which received two N levels: 150 N and 300 N. The effect of plant diversity on N2O emissions was derived from linear combinations of species performances' in monoculture (species identity) and not from strong interactions between species in mixtures. Increasing from 150 N to 300 N in L. perenne resulted in a highly significant increase in cumulative N2O emissions from 1.39 to 3.18 kg N2O-N ha−1 year−1. Higher N2O emissions were also associated with the legume FG. Emissions intensities (yield-scaled N2O emissions) from multi-species mixture communities around the equi-proportional mixture were lowered due to interactions among species. For N2O emissions scaled by nitrogen yield in forage, the 6-species mixture was significantly lower than L. perenne at both 300 N and 150 N. In comparison to 300 N L. perenne, the same N yield or DM yield could have been produced with the equi-proportional 6-species mixture (150 N) while reducing N2O losses by 63% and 58% respectively. Compared to 150 N L. perenne, the same N yield or DM yield could have been produced with the 6-species mixture while reducing N2O losses by 41% and 24% respectively. Overall, this study found that multi-species grasslands can potentially reduce both N2O emissions and emissions intensities, contributing to the sustainability of grassland production.

KeywordsGrasslands; GHG emissions; Nitrous oxide; Yield-scaled N2O emissions; Multi-species mixtures; Grassland production
Year of Publication2021
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Journal citation792, p. 148163
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148163
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeBBS/E/C/000I0120
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted27 May 2021
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0048-9697

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