Modeling nitrous oxide emissions from digestate and slurry applied to three agricultural soils in the United Kingdom: Fluxes and emission factors

Jiacheng Shen, Roland Treu, Junye Wang, Fiona Nicholson, Anne Bhogal, Rachel Thorman

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Organic fertilizers, such as digestates and manure, are increasingly applied in agricultural systems because of the benefits they provide in terms of plant nutrients and soil quality. However, there are few investigations of N2O emissions following digestate application to agricultural soils using process-based models. In this study, we modified the UK-DNDC model to include digestate applications to soils by adding digestate properties to the model and considering the effect of organic fertilizer pH. Using the modified model, N2O emissions were simulated from two organic fertilizers (digested food waste and livestock slurry) applied to three farms in the United Kingdom: one growing winter wheat at Wensum (WE) and two grasslands at Pwllpeiran (PW) and North Wyke (NW). The annual cumulative gross (i.e. not excluding control emission) N2O emissions were calculated using MATLAB trapezoidal numerical integration. The relative errors of the modeled annual cumulative emissions to the measured emissions ranged from −5.4% to 48%. Two-factor models, including linear, exponential and hyperbola responses, correlating total N loading and soil clay content to calculations of N2O emissions and N2O emission factors (EFs) were developed for calculations of emission fluxes and EFs. The squares of the correlation coefficients of the measured and two-factor linear modeled emissions were 0.998 and 0.999 for digestate and slurry, respectively, and the corresponding squares of correlation coefficients of the EFs were 0.998 and 0.938. The two-factor linear model also predicted that the EFs increased linearly with decreasing clay content and the maximum EFs for digestate and slurry were 0.95 and 0.76% of total N applied, respectively. This demonstrates that the modified UK_DNDC is a good tool to simulate N2O emission from digestate and slurry and to calculate UK EFs using TIER 3 methodology..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1952-1965
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Dec. 2018


  • DNDC model
  • Digestate
  • Emission factor
  • Linear model
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Slurry


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