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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #202251

Title: Global Warming Potential of Long-Term Grazing Management Systems in the Northern Great Plains

item Liebig, Mark
item Gross, Jason
item Kronberg, Scott
item Phillips, Beckie

Submitted to: USDA Greenhouse Gas Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2006
Publication Date: 2/5/2007
Citation: Liebig, M.A., Gross, J.R., Kronberg, S.L., Phillips, R.L. 2007. Global Warming Potential of Long-Term Grazing Management Systems in the Northern Great Plains. IN: Proc. 4th USDA Greenhouse Gas Symposium, 5-8 Feb 2007. Baltimore, MD [CDROM].

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Grazing lands in the northern Great Plains of North America are extensive, occupying over 50 Mha. Yet grazing land contributions to, or mitigation of, global warming potential (GWP) is largely unknown for the region. The objective of this study was to estimate GWP for three long-term (70 to 90 yr) grazing management systems in the northern Great Plains. Fluxes of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) were measured using static chamber methodology over a period of three years within a moderately-grazed pasture (MGP), heavily-grazed pasture (HGP), and a fertilized crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum (Fisch. ex. Link) Schult.) pasture (FCWP) near Mandan, ND. Carbon dioxide efflux was greatest in FCWP and least in HGP, and was strongly related to variations in soil temperature. All three pastures were minor sinks for CH4, ranging from 1.3 to 1.5 kg CH4-C ha-1 yr-1. Emission of N2O within FCWP was over twice that observed in MGP and HGP. The majority of annual N2O emission across all pastures occurred during brief mid-winter warming periods when air temperatures exceeded 0°C. Using long-term estimates of soil carbon accrual ranging from 0.29 to 0.55 Mg C ha-1 yr-1, all three pastures were found to be net sinks when expressed on a GWP basis. Based on results from this three year study, native vegetation pastures and seeded crested wheatgrass in the northern Great Plains appear to mitigate net greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by serving as sinks for atmospheric CO2. [GRACEnet Publication]