Estimating direct N2O emissions from sheep, beef, and deer grazed pastures in New Zealand hill country: accounting for the effect of land slope on N2O emission factors from urine and dung

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Nearly one-half of New Zealand's ruminant livestock graze on hill country pastures where spatial differences in soil conditions are highly variable and excretal deposition is influenced by pasture production, animal grazing and resting behaviour that impact the nitrous oxide (N2O) emission factor from excreta (EF3). New Zealand currently uses country-specific EF3 values for urine and dung of 0.01 and 0.0025, respectively, to estimate direct N2O emissions from excreta. These values have largely been developed from trials on flat pastoral land. The use of the same EF3 for hill pasture with medium and steep slopes has been recognised as a possible source of overestimation of N2O emissions in New Zealand. The objectives of this study were to develop and describe an approach that takes into account the effects of slope in estimating hill country N2O emissions from the dung and urine of ruminant animals (sheep, beef cattle, and deer) across different slope classes, and then compare these estimates with current New Zealand inventory estimates. We use New Zealand as a case study to determine the direct N2O emissions between 1990 and 2012 from sheep, beef cattle and deer excreta using updated estimates of EF3 for sloping land, the area of land in different slope classes by region and farm type, and a nutrient transfer model to allocate excretal-N to the different slope classes, and compare the changes between these hill pastures-specific and current inventory estimates. Our findings are significant - the proposed new methodology using New Zealand specific EFs calculated from a national series of hill country experiments resulted in 52% lower N2O estimates relative to using current inventory emission factors, for the period between 1990 and 2012 and reduces New Zealand's total national agricultural N2O greenhouse inventory estimates by 16%. The improved methodology is transparent, and complete, and has improved accuracy of emission estimates. On this basis, the improved methodology of estimating N2O emission is recommended for adoption where hill land grasslands are grazed by sheep, beef cattle and deer.
Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Agriculture, Multidisciplinary, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Agriculture, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Animal grazing and resting behaviour, Country specific emissions, IPCC, New methodology, Nutrient transfer model, UNFCCC, Nitrous oxide, NITROUS-OXIDE EMISSIONS, PHOSPHORUS, FRANCE, SULFUR, FATE