Deceleration of Cropland-N2O Emissions in China and Future Mitigation Potentials

Xiaoqing Cui, Ziyin Shang, Longlong Xia, Rongting Xu, Wulahati Adalibieke, Xiaoying Zhan, Pete Smith, Feng Zhou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Agricultural soils are the largest anthropogenic emission source of nitrous oxide (N2O). National agricultural policies have been implemented to increase crop yield and reduce nitrogen (N) losses to the environment. However, it is difficult to effectively quantify crop-specific and regional N2O mitigation priorities driven by policies, due to lack of long-term, high-resolution crop-specific activity data, and oversimplified models. Here, we quantify the spatiotemporal changes and key drivers of crop-specific cropland-N2O emissions from China between 1980 and 2017, and future N2O mitigation potentials, using a linear mixed-effect model and survey-based data set of agricultural management measures. Cropland-N2O emissions from China tripled from 102.5 to 315.0 Gg N yr-1 between 1980 and 2017, and decelerated since 1998 mainly driven by country-wide deceleration and decrease in N rate and the changes in sowing structure. About 63% of N2O emissions could be reduced in 2050, primarily in the North China Plain and Northeast China Plain; 83% of which is from the production of maize (33%), vegetables (27%), and fruits (23%). The deceleration of N2O emissions highlights that policy interventions and agronomy practices (i.e., optimizing N rate and sowing structure) are potential pathways for further ambitious N2O mitigation in China and other developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4665-4675
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2022


  • agricultural management
  • agricultural soils
  • climate change
  • mitigation potentials
  • NO emissions
  • policy intervention


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