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Land use conversion and soil moisture affect the magnitude and pattern of soil-borne N2, NO, and N2O emissions

In this study, soil-borne N2, NO, and N2O emissions induced by land use conversion and water management were investigated in intact soil cores under a helium/oxygen atmosphere by a robotized incubation system in combination with the N2O 15N site preference signature and molecular-based microbial analysis. The experiment consisted of five treatments: i) paddy-flooded (PF); ii) orchard-wet (OW, 70% WFPS); iii) orchard-dry (OD, 43% WFPS); iv) vegetable-wet (VW, 70% WFPS); and v) vegetable-dry (VD, 43% WFPS). The vessels of each treatment received 200 mg urea-nitrogen (N) (equivalent to 210 kg of urea-N ha- 1), and soil moisture in the OW and VW treatments was adjusted to a higher constant moisture to simulate a scenario after irrigation or rainfall. The results showed that total gaseous N losses during the incubation period were 25.33 ± 0.33 kg N ha-1 in the PF treatment, whereas smaller losses were recorded in the OD and VD treatments (4.28 ± 2.04 and 9.75 ± 3.75 kg N ha- 1, respectively). The potential contribution of bacterial denitrification to N2O emissions in the OD and VD treatments was 11.1% and 15.4% higher, respectively, than that in the PF treatment (58.8% ± 0.5%). Furthermore, the corresponding N2O/(N2O + N2) ratio in the OD and VD treatments decreased by 50% and 73.8%, respectively, relative to the ratio in the PF treatment (0.42 ± 0.01). Such changes indicated the crucial role of altered soil properties caused by land use conversion in regulating the production and consumption of N2O. Relative to the normal moisture (dry) condition, enhanced soil moisture increased total gaseous N losses in the orchard and vegetable soils by 386.9% and 67.4%, accompanied by a higher N2O/(N2O + N2) product ratio, but decreased the share of bacterial N2O by 11.1% and 15.4%, respectively. The changes in the abundance and community composition of soil denitrifiers caused by land use conversion from rice paddies to orchards and vegetable fields could partly explain the differences in gaseous N loss therein. These findings highlight the influence of land use conversion on soil gaseous N emissions and demonstrate that increased moisture in upland soils reduced the dominance of bacterial denitrification in N2O production.

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