Grazing intensity and driving factors affect soil nitrous oxide fluxes during the growing seasons in the Hulunber meadow steppe of China

In this study, the effects of cattle grazing intensity on soil nitrous oxide (N2O) fluxes were examined in the Hulunber meadow steppe of north-eastern China. Six stocking-rate treatments (0, 0.23, 0.34, 0.46, 0.69, and 0.92 AU ha−1) with three replicates were established, and observations were conducted from 2010 to 2014. Our results showed that substantial temporal fluctuations in N2O flux occurred amongst the different grazing intensities, with peak N2O fluxes after natural rainfall. Grazing had a long-term effect on the soil N2O flux in the grasslands. After 4–5 years of grazing, the N2O fluxes under increased levels of grazing intensity began to decrease significantly by 31.4%–60.2% in 2013 and 32.5%–50.5% in 2014 compared to the non-grazing treatment.

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