Methane flux in cropland and adjacent riparian buffers with different vegetation covers

J Environ Qual. 2009 Dec 30;39(1):97-105. doi: 10.2134/jeq2008.0408. Print Jan-Feb 2010.


While water quality functions of conservation buffers established adjacent to cropped fields have been widely documented, the relative contribution of these re-established perennial plant systems to greenhouse gases has not been completely documented. In the case of methane (CH(4)), these systems have the potential to serve as sinks of CH(4) or may provide favorable conditions for CH(4) production. This study quantifies CH(4) flux from soils of riparian buffer systems comprised of three vegetation types and compares these fluxes with those of adjacent crop fields. We measured soil properties and diel and seasonal variations of CH(4) flux in 7 to 17 yr-old re-established riparian forest buffers, warm-season and cool-season grass filters, and an adjacent crop field located in the Bear Creek watershed in central Iowa. Forest buffer and grass filter soils had significantly lower bulk density (P < 0.01); and higher pH (P < 0.01), total carbon (TC) (P < 0.01), and total nitrogen (TN) (P < 0.01) than crop field soils. There was no significant relationship between CH(4) flux and soil moisture or soil temperature among sites within the range of conditions observed. Cumulative CH(4) flux was -0.80 kg CH(4)-C ha(-1) yr(-1) in the cropped field, -0.46 kg CH(4)-C ha(-1) yr(-1) within the forest buffers, and 0.04 kg CH(4)-C ha(-1) yr(-1) within grass filters, but difference among vegetation covers was not significant. Results suggest that CH(4) flux was not changed after establishment of perennial vegetation on cropped soils, despite significant changes in soil properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods
  • Methane / chemistry*
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Rivers*
  • Soil / analysis*
  • Soil Pollutants / chemistry
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • Soil
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Methane