Impacts of reduced synthetic fertiliser use under current and future climates Exploration using integrated agroecosystem modelling in the upper River Taw observatory, UK

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Zhang, Y., Wu, L., Jebari, A. and Collins, A. L. 2024. Impacts of reduced synthetic fertiliser use under current and future climates Exploration using integrated agroecosystem modelling in the upper River Taw observatory, UK. Journal of Environmental Management. 351, p. 119732. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119732

AuthorsZhang, Y., Wu, L., Jebari, A. and Collins, A. L.
Abstract

The intensification of farming and increased nitrogen fertiliser use, to satisfy the growing population demand, contributed to the extant climate change crisis. Use of synthetic fertilisers in agriculture is a significant source of anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, especially potent nitrous oxide (N2O). To achieve the ambitious policy target for net zero by 2050 in the UK, it is crucial to understand the impacts of potential reductions in fertiliser use on multiple ecosystem services, including crop production, GHG emissions and soil organic carbon (SOC) storage. A novel integrated modelling approach using three established agroecosystem models (SPACSYS, CSM and RothC) was implemented to evaluate the associated impacts of fertiliser reduction (10%, 30% and 50%) under current and projected climate scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) in a study catchment in Southwest England. 48 unique combinations of soil types, climate conditions and fertiliser inputs were evaluated for five major arable crops plus improved grassland. With a 30% reduction in fertiliser inputs, the estimated yield loss under current climate ranged between 11% and 30% for arable crops compared with a 20–24% and 6–22% reduction in N2O and methane emissions, respectively. Biomass was reduced by 10–25% aboveground and by <12% for the root system. Relative to the baseline scenario, soil type dependent reductions in SOC sequestration rates are predicted under future climate with reductions in fertiliser inputs. Losses in SOC were more than doubled under the RCP4.5 scenario. The emissions from energy use, including embedded emissions from fertiliser manufacture, was a significant source (14–48%) for all arable crops and the associated GWP20.

KeywordsClimate change; Nitrogen fertiliser; Ecosystem services; Integrated modelling
Year of Publication2024
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Journal citation351, p. 119732
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119732
Web address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479723025203?via%3Dihub
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition - Work package 3 (WP3) - Sustainable intensification - optimisation at multiple scales
Resilient Farming Futures
Publisher's version
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online07 Dec 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted25 Nov 2023
ISSN0301-4797
PublisherElsevier

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