Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Ammonia emissions from soil under sheep grazing in Inner Mongolian grasslands of China


Ammonia (NH3) emission and redeposition play a major role in terrestrial nitrogen (N) cycles and can also cause environmental problems, such as changes in biodiversity, soil acidity, and eutrophication. Previous field grazing experiments showed inconsistent (positive, neutral, and negative) NH3 volatilization from soils in response to varying grazing intensities. However, it remains unclear whether, or to what extent, NH3 emissions from soil are affected by increasing grazing intensities in Inner Mongolian grasslands. Using a 5-year grazing experiment, we investigated the relationship between NH3 volatilization from soil and grazing pressure (0.0, 3.0, 6.0, and 9.0 sheep/hm2) from June to September of 2009 and 2010 via the vented-chamber method. The results show that soil NH3 volatilization was not significantly different at different grazing intensities in 2009, although it was higher at the highest stocking rate during 2010. There was no significant linear relationship between soil NH3 volatilization rates and soil NH4+-N, but soil NH3 volatilization rates were significantly related to soil water content and air temperature. Grazing intensities had no significant influence on soil NH3 volatilization. Soil NH3 emissions from June to September (grazing period), averaged over all grazing intensities, were 9.6±0.2 and 19.0±0.2 kg N/hm2 in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Moreover, linear equations describing monthly air temperature and precipitation showed a good fit to changes in soil NH3 emissions (r=0.506, P=0.014). Overall, grazing intensities had less influence than that of climatic factors on soil NH3 emissions. Our findings provide new insights into the effects of grazing on NH3 volatilization from soil in Inner Mongolian grasslands, and have important implications for understanding N cycles in grassland ecosystems and for estimating soil NH3 emissions on a regional scale.

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