Modeling the effect of salt-affected soil on water balance fluxes and nitrous oxide emission using modified DNDC

Syed Hamid Hussain Shah, Junye Wang, Xiying Hao, Ben W. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Soil salinity restricts plant growth, affects soil water balance and nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes and can contaminate surface and groundwater. In this study, the Denitrification Decomposition (DNDC) model was modified to couple salt and water balance equations (SALT-DNDC) to investigate the effect of salinity on water balance and N2O fluxes. The model was examined against four growing seasons (2008–11) of observed data from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Then, the model was used to simulate water filled pore space (WFPS), salt concentration and the N2O flux from agricultural soils. The results show that the effects of salinity on WFPS vary in different soil layers. Within shallow soil layers (<20 cm from soil surface) the salt concentration does not affect the average WFPS when initial salt concentrations range from 5 to 20 dS/m. However, in deeper soil layers (>20 cm from soil surface), when the initial salt concentration ranges from 5 to 20 dS/m it could indirectly affect the average WFPS due to changes of osmotic potential and transpiration. When AW is greater than 40%, the average growing season N2O emissions increase to a range of 0.6–1.0 g-N/ha/d at initial salt concentrations (5–20 dS/m) from a range of 0.5–0.7 g-N/ha/d when the salt concentrations is 0 dS/m. The newly developed SALT-DNDC model provides a unique tool to help investigate interactive effects among salt, soil, water, vegetation, and weather conditions on N2O fluxes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111678
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb. 2021


  • Crop transpiration
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Osmotic effect
  • SALT-DNDC model
  • Soil layers
  • Soil salinity


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