NO and N2O emissions from savanna soils following the first simulated rains of the season

M. C. Scholes, R. Martin, R. J. Scholes, D. Parsons, E. Winstead

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113 Scopus citations


Data on the emissions of oxides of nitrogen from the soil during the early part of the wet season are reported for nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor sandy soils at Nylsvley, South Africa. The emissions of NOx and N2O following the first wetting event of the season are elevated relative to subsequent events. The observed high emission rates (76 ng N-NO m-2 s-1) are partially attributed to the sandiness of the soil, which permits NO to diffuse out of the soil rapidly. The pulse of high emissions following wetting is maintained for approximately 72 hours, thereafter continuing at around 20 ng NO m-2 s-1 while the soil remains moist. The initial pulse is suggested to be due to the accumulation of a substrate pool during the dry period, coupled with an inability of plants and microbes to use it effectively during the first few days after wetting. There were no significant differences in the peak or subsequent emission rates for either NO or N2O between two sites of differing nitrogen mineralisation potentials. N2O emissions averaged 8% of NOx emissions. The enhanced emissions of NOx which follow the first wetting after a prolonged dry period do not make a very large contribution to the annual gaseous N emission budget, but could be a significant contributor to the high tropospheric ozone levels observed over southern Africa in springtime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-122
Number of pages8
JournalNutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • NO soil emissions
  • NO soil emissions
  • Savanna soils

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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