Nitrous Oxide Emission by Agricultural Soils: A Review of Spatial and Temporal Variability for Mitigation
This short review deals with soils as an important source of the greenhouse gas N2O. The production and consumption of N2O in soils mainly involve biotic processes: the anaerobic process of denitrification and the aerobic process of nitrification. The factors that significantly influence agricultural N2O emissions mainly concern the agricultural practices (N application rate, crop type, fertilizer type) and soil conditions (soil moisture, soil organic C content, soil pH and texture). Large variability of N2O fluxes is known to occur both at different spatial and temporal scales. Currently new techniques could help to improve the capture of the spatial variability. Continuous measurement systems with automatic chambers could also help to capture temporal variability and consequently to improve quantification of N2O emissions by soils. Some attempts for mitigating soil N2O emissions, either by modifying agricultural practices or by managing soil microbial functioning taking into account the origin of the soil N2O emission variability, are reviewed.