Nitrous oxide release from soils receiving N-rich crop residues and paper mill sludge in eastern Scotland

E. M. Baggs*, R. M. Rees, K. Castle, A. Scott, K. A. Smith, A. J.A. Vinten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incorporation of crop residues and other organic material to agricultural soils may increase nitrous oxide (N20) emissions, depending on the quantity and quality of the incorporated material. The effects of combining materials of contrasting quality on these emissions have still to be investigated. In this paper, the effects of applying paper mill sludge (PMS), incorporating plant residues, and cultivation on emissions of N2O are reported. Two field experiments were undertaken on Cambisol soils (FAO classification), previously cropped to iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. saladin) and calabrese (Brassica oleracea italica var. cymosa) in Fife, eastern Scotland. Emissions were measured using both automated and manual closed chambers and comparisons were made between these techniques. Nitrous oxide emissions were high after incorporation of PMS; with up to 4.9kg N2O-N ha-1 emitted over the first 3 weeks. These increased emissions were probably due to the high input of organic C for denitrification. Emissions from deep ploughed PMS treatments were higher (P < 0.05) than from rotary tilled and conventional ploughed treatments. Application of PMS resulted in an increase in microbial biomass C, but not biomass N. Measurements using autochambers recorded higher N2O emissions than those obtained by less frequent manual measurements, partly due to diurnal variations in N2O with soil temperature. High Q10s (up to 4.0) for this temperature response were recorded in one period in July. It is recommended that diurnal temperature variations be recorded when sampling from manual closed flux chambers so that corrections can be made for diurnal variation in N2O.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-123
Number of pages15
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2002


  • Available soil nitrogen
  • Crop residues
  • Diurnal variability
  • Eastern Scotland
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Paper mill sludge

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