Science of The Total Environment Vol. 468–469, 2014, Pages: 553–563
Greenhouse gas fluxes from agricultural soils under organic and non-organic management — A global meta-analysis
Colin Skinner, Andreas Gattinger, Adrian Muller, Paul Mäder, Andreas Fließbach,
Matthias Stolze , Reiner Ruser, Urs Niggli
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Ackerstrasse 21, 5070 Frick, Switzerland.
It is anticipated that organic farming systems provide benefits concerning soil conservation and climate protection. A literature search on measured soil-derived greenhouse gas (GHG) (nitrous oxide and methane) fluxes under organic and non-organic management from farming system comparisons was conducted and followed by a meta-analysis. Up to date only 19 studies based on field measurements could be retrieved. Based on 12 studies that cover annual measurements, it appeared with a high significance that area-scaled nitrous oxide emissions from organically managed soils are 492 ± 160 kg CO2 eq. ha-1 a-1 lower than from non-organically managed soils. For arable soils the difference amounts to 497 ± 162 kg CO2 eq. ha-1 a-1. However, yield-scaled nitrous oxide emissions are higher by 41 ± 34 kg CO2 eq. t-1 DM under organic management (arable and use). To equalize this mean difference in yield-scaled nitrous oxide emissions between both farming systems, the yield gap has to be less than 17%. Emissions from conventionally managed soils seemed to be influenced mainly by total N inputs, whereas for organically managed soils other variables such as soil characteristics seemed to be more important. This can be explained by the higher bioavailability of the synthetic N fertilisers in non-organic farming systems while the necessary mineralisation of the N sources under organic management leads to lower and retarded availability. Furthermore, a higher methane uptake of 3.2 ± 2.5 kg CO2 eq. ha-1 a-1 for arable soils under organic management can be observed. Only one comparative study on rice paddies has been published up to date. All 19 retrieved studies were conducted in the Northern hemisphere under temperate climate. Further GHG flux measurements in farming system comparisons are required to confirm the results and close the existing knowledge gaps.
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