Greenhouse gas emissions and soil organic matter dynamics in woody crop orchards with different irrigation regimes

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Dec 10;644:1429-1438. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.06.398. Epub 2018 Jul 23.

Abstract

Water scarcity in arid, semiarid and dry regions is a limiting factor for the development of sustainable agriculture. As a consequence, the adoption of new strategies such as regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) to reduce water and energy consumption will be essential. Decreases in irrigation water content may also have positive effects on soil C cycle. Thus, an experiment was setup in three woody crop orchards during two years, with the objective of assessing if RDI can reduce soil CO2 and N2O emissions, modify soil inorganic C and organic C quality and stability and affect soil aggregation. Soil CO2 and N2O emissions were measured every two weeks while soil samplings were carried out every three months. Results indicated that decreases in soil moisture by RDI implementation were related to significant decreases in CO2 emissions in all crops. RDI contributed to an average decrease, compared with full irrigation, of 1088-1664 g CO2 m-2 in the experimental period. Furthermore, CO2 emission was negatively correlated with inorganic C, suggesting the protective effect of soil carbonates towards organic matter. RDI also contributed to significantly decrease soil N2O emissions. However, N2O emission patterns did not directly follow soil moisture patterns and were constant in the experimental period. RDI contributed to an average decrease, compared with full irrigation, of 90-409 mg N2O m-2. No physicochemical property was significantly affected by irrigation regime. Although microbial biomass was not significantly affected by RDI, β-glucosidase activity was significantly higher under full irrigation during the warm seasons, with significant positive correlation with CO2 emissions. This seems to suggest that a significant fraction of CO2 emitted from soil derives from organic matter degradation, which is limited with low water content. So, RDI could contribute to promote soil C sequestration by reduced greenhouse gas emissions, with no negative effects on soil structure at short-term.

Keywords: Aggregates stability; CO(2) emissions; Inorganic carbon; N(2)O emissions; Organic carbon.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Crops, Agricultural / growth & development*
  • Greenhouse Gases / analysis*
  • Soil / chemistry
  • Wood / chemistry

Substances

  • Greenhouse Gases
  • Soil